ADDS ADDITIONAL HALEY COMMENTS
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - More children died in Syrian in 2017 than at any time during the seven-year conflict there, UN Secretary General Atonio Guterres said Monday as the U.S. threatened unilateral action if the UN fails to act.
"I am deeply saddened by the immense loss and cascading suffering of the Syrian people," Guterres told the Security Council during a briefing on the status of a 30-day cease-fire the Council approved late last month. "And I am deeply disappointed by all those who have, year after year, by action or inaction, by design or indifference, allowed this to happen."
The cease-fire the council approved in February has failed to stop some of the worst hostilities in Syria, notably in a Damascus suburb where a regime offensive has resulted in mass devastation and loss of life.
"Particularly in eastern Ghouta, airstrikes, shelling and ground offensives have intensified after the adoption of the resolution and claimed many hundreds of civilian lives -- some even reporting the toll at more than 1,000," Guterres said. "I wish to underscore the urgency of seeing medical evacuations, civilian protection, and full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access as soon as possible."
Shelling from eastern Ghouta to Damascus has claimed dozens, possibly close to 100, civilian deaths and injuries, Guterres added.
Nikki Haley, Washington's UN envoy, called on the Council to act following the cease-fire's inability to stem the violence.
"That day has come. The cease-fire has failed," she said. "The situation of the civilians in eastern Ghouta is dire. And the United States is acting. "
Haley singled out Russia for its failure to rein in the regime, saying Moscow "did not keep their commitment" when it voted in favor of cease-fire.
The U.S. is proposing a new cease-fire resolution "that provides no room for evasion", and will take effect immediately if adopted, Haley said.
"If we can’t act when children are dying, we have no business being here. If we can’t save families that haven’t seen the sun for weeks because they have been hiding underground to escape barrel bombs, then the Security Council is as impotent as its worst critics say it is,” she said.
Unilateral U.S. action is possible if the regime does not curtail its actions, Haley warned
"We also warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime: The United States remains prepared to act if we must. It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take it again,” she said.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Betul Yuruk contributed to this report from the United Nations