Syria chemical attack death toll now at 72; new strikes hit

"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", Haley said, without elaborating.

Dozens of civilians, including children, were killed and injured in the attack carried out on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. While Trump tries to show he's dealing with extremist groups in Syria more aggressively than Obama, his administration has suggested it could align with Russia, Assad's key military backer. "In essence nearly nodding to the idea that Assad was gonna get to stay in some capacity", Rubio said, according to CNN.

The Ghouta attack prompted Obama to ask Congress to authorize military action against Syria in 2013.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that President Donald Trump is "extremely alarmed" by reports of the attack and said it was "reprehensible and can not be ignored by the civilized world".

He calls the attack a "horrible thing, unspeakable" and says, "It's a awful affront to humanity". But he pointedly refused to say what action the US might take in response. He also suggested the Obama administration missed an opportunity in previous years to push harder for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After all, Trump's first reaction to the attack was to blame Obama's "weakness" in earlier years for enabling Assad.

During a new conference in Turkey last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled that the U.S.

Trump left it to his top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to assign culpability to Russian Federation and Iran, Assad's most powerful allies.

Only days earlier multiple members of Trump's administration had said Assad's ouster was no longer a USA priority, drawing outrage from Assad critics in the us and overseas.

Critics such as Arizona Republican Sen.

"You pick and choose your battles", USA ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters, echoing comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a visit to Turkey last week.

US officials said there were some indications nerve gas had been used, though they suggested it could also be another in a series of chlorine gas attacks by Assad's military.

"There is not a fundamental option of regime change as there has been in the past", Spicer said, adding that it would be better for the Syrian people if Assad left office. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? "I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country".

"Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths", Tillerson said.

"In that sense, the Trump administration is simply recognizing the reality: We are not, and have not been, prepared to do what's necessary to overthrow the regime", Gordon said.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused the Syrian government of conducting at least eight chemical attacks using chlorine gas on opposition-controlled residential areas during the final months in the battle for Aleppo a year ago that killed at least nine civilians and injured 200. "There is only one air force that has used such weapons". "These heinous actions by the Assad regime can not be tolerated". Obama's spokesman declined to comment.The draft U.N. Security Council statement condemns the attack and demands an investigation. The United States hasn't yet concluded what type of chemical was used.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council plans an emergency session midday Wednesday on the attack.

A Russian defence ministry statement said earlier that poison gas which killed scores of people in northwestern Syria had leaked from an insurgent chemical-weapons depot after Syrian warplanes hit it.

Multiple countries denounced the attack on Wednesday before and during the Security Council hearing. His government declared a 1,300-ton stockpile of chemical weapons and so-called precursor chemicals that can be used to make weapons amid global outrage. "This chemical horror opens a new spiral into the abyss of the human tragedy".

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