Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch Condemn Syrian Chemical Attack and Russian Obstruction at UN

Apr 6, 2017

Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch Condemn Syrian Chemical Attack and Russian Obstruction at UN

(Washington) Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) and Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, delivered a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urging for a strong response by the Security Council to the horrific and criminal use of chemical weapons by Syria's Assad against innocent civilians:

“Assad’s repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria is barbaric and unconscionable," said Chairman Ros-Lehtinen. "I join my colleague in applauding Ambassador Haley for her strong condemnation of this brutal act at the Security Council and for her willingness to call out Russia and Iran for their culpability in perpetuating this tragedy. For over six years, we have seen horrifying images and the Syrian people have endured the unthinkable, yet these nations prevented any meaningful international response. The time for America to lead is now - we must hold those who impede a solution accountable and we must lead a response that ensures Assad is removed from power so that he cannot continue to murder at will innocent Syrians.”

“The awful images of babies gasping for air will not quickly leave our memories," said Ranking Member Deutch. "Assad’s inhumanity has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of lives displaced, and far too many tragedies. It is unconscionable for these actions to go unpunished by the international community. Yet, time after time, Russia obstructs any meaningful global action against Assad, instead continuing to enable this dictator to slaughter more innocent civilians. We cannot turn a blind eye to this tragedy. I join with my colleague in urging our leadership at the United Nations to continue to push for action.”

The letter can be found here and read below:

Dear Madam Ambassador,

We write today to express our horror at the chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 4, 2017.

This devastating attack took the lives of nearly 80 people, including dozens of children, and injured hundreds more in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. We are heartbroken for the innocent lives that were taken yesterday. This tragedy reminds us of the over 1,400 people killed in a chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria nearly four years ago and the hundreds of thousands of victims that have been killed throughout this awful war.

The images coming from Syria over the past 24 hours are difficult to watch: children choking and gasping for air; the few remaining doctors in Idlib province scrambling to administer treatment in battered hospitals and clinics; and hundreds of civilians drowning on dry land with searing pain in their eyes, suffering from the telltale injuries of a Sarin gas attack.

We cannot allow ourselves to look away from these horrors. We cannot let the Syrian people believe that we are blind to the innate dignity of their lives. We cannot let the world move past this atrocity without our leadership and action.

The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. Moreover, this attack is evidence that the Assad regime has violated the international agreement that initiated the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile four years ago.

We commend your swift action to convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council and your work in coordination with our allies France and the United Kingdom to introduce a resolution condemning this brutal attack. We are dismayed that, even when it comes to the condemnation of the horrific use of chemical weapons on children, Russia obstructs the timely passage of the resolution. It will be unconscionable if Russia continues to further block this important effort. There is simply no excuse for the global community’s failure to generate a strong, unified rebuke of Assad’s slaughter of his own people.

It is far past time for meaningful international action to save the lives of innocent Syrians. The United States has a moral responsibility to lead the response when this sort of humanitarian devastation continues unabated year after year. We urge you to continue to press for action at the Security Council, and to hold those member states who continue to block such action accountable.