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US threatens action in Syria if UN fails to act

US threatens action in Syria if UN fails to act

The United States has warned the United Nations Security Council that it will take action in Syria if the the body fails to do so. 

US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, reminded the 15-member Security Council that action needed to be taken and that the US has proven that it would be willing to do so. 

"It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again. 

"When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action," she said. 

Last year, the US bombed a Syrian government air base in retaliation over a deadly chemical weapons attack. 

On February 24, the UN signed a unanimous resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across the country to ensure that aid could get to the conflict zones and that the injured are evacuated. 

Since February 18, the region of eastern Ghouta, near the capital Damascus, has seen sustained bombing over the last few weeks as government troops bombard the last of the rebel strongholds. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's onslaught on the area, which has included air and artillery strikes and has the support of Russia and Iran, has killed about 1 160 people over the last eight weeks.

The President's forces say that they are targeting "terrorist" groups which have been bombarding the capital. 

Syria and Russia discarded the ceasefire, saying it did not protect the fighters in eastern Ghouta, who, they argue, are members of banned terrorist groups. 

"There has been no cessation of hostilities. Violence continues in eastern Ghouta and beyond - including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and into Damascus and its suburbs," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday. 

"No sieges have been lifted ... To our knowledge, not one critically sick or wounded person has yet been evacuated," Reuters reports Guterres as saying. 

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's envoy to the UN, has also dismissed reports that the Syrian government was carrying out chemical weapon attacks. 

He calls the reports attempts to "prepare the ground for the unilateral use of force against sovereign Syria."

"We have heard hints of that in the statements of some delegations today," he said on Monday. 

"Basically steps are being weighed which could hit regional stability very, very hard," he warned. 

Last year, Russia and the US brokered a deal making the southern parts Syria reclaimed by government forces from the rebels as a "de-escalation zone". 

The US State Department, however, on Monday said that it was very concerned by the continuing violence  and called for an "urgent meeting" to be  held in Jordan to ensure that the de-escalation zone is maintained. 

"We urge all parties in the southwest de-escalation zone not to take actions that would jeopardize the ceasefire and make future cooperation more difficult," an official with the State Department said. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group is reporting that the death toll in the civil war has already claimed the lives of more than half a million people. 

The group confirmed the deaths of 511 000 people, saying that it is able to identify more than 350 000. The group added that around 85 percent of those were killed by government forces and their allies. 

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