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Syrian Observatory says war has killed more than half a million

13 March 2018
Syrian Observatory says war has killed more than half a million

"And I think President Donald Trump made that very clear early in his administration", US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, speaking with a small group of reporters before landing in Oman.

Mattis blamed Russian Federation for Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which Russian Federation said it would help eliminate as part of an agreement in 2013, but which the United States and worldwide observers said Syria used on civilians previous year.

"Again, either Russian Federation is incompetent or in cahoots with Assad", he said. Noting that since the resolution was passed there have been three allegations of chlorine gas attacks during a stepped up military campaign against rebels, Haley told the council: "This is no cease-fire".

"They are Assad's partner and whether the airplane dropping the bomb is a Russian airplane or a Syrian airplane, I'd prefer not to say right now", he said.

United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Hailey denounced the failure to implement the resolution, and said her country was drafting a new one with "no room for evasion".

Added Pompeo: "The president asks me almost every day what it is the intelligence community knows about the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons and who else - the Russians or the Iranians - who might be responsible for them".

Worries are growing in Jordan and Western powers that the Syrian army, backed by Moscow and Iranian-backed militias, will press on with a major assault to regain the south if it retakes Eastern Ghouta, two senior Western diplomats said.

Syrian state television reported on Sunday that rebel mortar fire had killed four people after hitting a taxi.

The U.N. estimates 400,000 civilians are trapped in the siege.

Russia, which backs Syria's government in the civil war, and the United States, which has backed rebel forces seeking to topple Assad, met secretly in Jordan in June and announced a ceasefire in Syria's southwest a month later.

"We have drafted a new ceasefire resolution that provides no room for evasion", USA ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in reference to Syrian army's operation against the terrorists in East Ghouta that keep launching attacks on Damascus despite the ongoing ceasefire. Oman is a longtime security partner of the US, though some question whether it is facilitating, or turning a blind eye to, the movement of Iranian weapons to Yemen to aid Houthi rebels.

"I get paid to make strategic assessments". Oman has long-standing commercial and political ties to Iran, an Omani neighbor and USA nemesis. After the 2011 Arab Spring, Qaboos is now the longest-serving Arab leader in the Middle East. Oman was the site of secret talks between Iran and the USA that birthed Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The July 7 truce - the first US peacekeeping effort of the war under President Donald Trump - was expanded last November in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.