U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Wednesday during a U.N. Security Council meeting that countries could be "compelled to act" individually against the Syrian government if the world body does not take collective action after a deadly poison gas attack in Syria.
Western countries blamed President Bashar Assad's Armed Forces for the attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in a rebel-held area of northern Syria hit by government airstrikes.
The council is considering a draft resolution condemning the attack but Russia opposes it. British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said negotiations were continuing on the text but a vote was unlikely Wednesday.
"Assad, Russia and Iran have no interest in peace," Haley told the 15-member Security Council. "The illegitimate Syrian government, led by a man with no conscience, has committed untold atrocities against his people.
"When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," she added, without signaling what sort of action could be taken.
Syria's government denied responsibility for the attack with Russia’s Defense Ministry saying that the Syrian Air Force destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled by anti-government forces before being shipped to Islamic State group in Iraq, RT reported.
The gas attack killed at least 70 people, many of them children, many of them showing symptoms caused by chemical weapons.
Meanwhile speaking at the council, Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov blamed former U.S. President Barack Obama for the attacks, pointing to his 2012 comment in which he said he would have intervened in Syria against Assad if a "red line" was crossed and chemical weapons were used in Syria.
"That decision served as a starting point for future provocations by terrorists and extremist structures with the use of chemical weapons, they sought to discredit the official Damascus regime and to create a pretext for the use of military force against a sovereign state," Safronkov said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had also faulted Obama Tuesday for failing to enforce the red line.
An investigation by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State militants had used mustard gas.
Assad had agreed in 2013 to give up his chemical arsenal under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo told the Security Council Wednesday that all Syria's declared chemical materials and equipment have been removed or destroyed.