Haley Lashes Out at Russia, U.N. Security Council, Over Fall of Syrian Rebel Enclave

WASHINGTON (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) -
Ghouta
Video screencap of Syrian government forces and Russian soldiers overseeing the evacuation by buses of rebel fighters and their families, at a checkpoint in eastern Gouta, Syria, last Thursday. (AP Photo)

The United States on Tuesday condemned the forced surrender of one of the last rebel-held enclaves in Syria and accused Syrian government forces of using a U.N.-backed ceasefire to accomplish it.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, blamed Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and playing a “central role in the bombing of Syrian civilians into submission.”

Haley, speaking at a special session of the U.N. Security Council, also lashed out at her fellow members of the organization, saying they had failed to call out Russia and Syria’s other key ally, Iran. She was reacting to reports that the enclave of eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, had all but fallen to government forces, and thousands of civilians were being forced to flee.

“Siege. Starve. And surrender,” she said. “This is the awful, unceasing rhythm of the Syrian war. As we meet here today, the third step — surrender — is taking place in eastern Ghouta.”

She noted that 30 days had passed since the Security Council voted unanimously, Russia included, to demand a ceasefire in the area, a demand largely ignored by Pres. Assad and his Russian allies.

“This is a travesty,” Haley said. “This should be a day of shame for every member of this council.”

Although Russia voted for the ceasefire, it routinely vetoes measures that would punish Pres. Assad. Haley has repeatedly shown herself to be more hawkish on Moscow’s misdeeds than her boss, President Donald Trump.