United Nations, Apr 10 (PTI) The US and Russia have clashed at an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Syria, with Washington saying the Russian regime’s hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children and Moscow calling reports of the attack fake news. In an emergency meeting following claims of chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Douma, Syria, both Security Council members and officials briefing them voiced grave concern that the use of such weapons risked being normalized and could contribute to rapidly escalating tensions between world Powers for the first time since the end of the cold war.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said she could hold up pictures of all of the killing and suffering for the Security Council to see, “but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.

“The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before, she said. We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction. Haley said Russia’s obstructionism will not continue to hold us hostage when we are confronted with an attack like this one.

The United States is determined to see that the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account, she said.

Haley warned that the US will respond and that important decisions are being weighed upon.

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia said that it was hardly surprising that, in the absence of an investigation, the burden of responsibility was being pinned on Russia and Iran.

We need to get to the bottom of this, he said but in an honest and objective way that did not prejudge the outcome. He stressed that the use of sarin or chlorine in Douma had not been confirmed and invited those who would speak against him to proceed from the premise that no chemical attack had taken place.

He said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts should immediately fly to Damascus where Syrian authorities and Russian troops would provide the conditions for them to go to the scene and familiarize themselves with the situation, as called for by the President of the United States and other Western leaders.

He went on to say that air strikes yesterday on an airfield in Homs Province was deeply troubling, and that “fake news from Douma was aimed at drawing attention away from the case of the British spy Sergei Skripal.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed deep concern over renewed violence in Douma, particularly the alarming allegations that chemical weapons may have been used against civilians.

A statement from UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Secretary-General called on all parties to cease fighting and restore the calm that had been in place and adhere fully to Security Council resolution 2401, adopted in February and which called for a ceasefire across Syria.

While the UN is not in a position to verify these reports, his spokesperson said the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation. He reiterates there is no military solution to the conflict, Dujarric added.

Through his spokesperson, Guterres explained that over the last 36 hours, he has received reports indicating sustained airstrikes and shelling on Douma that have killed civilians, destroyed infrastructure and damaged health facilities.

There has also been shelling on Damascus city, reportedly killing civilians.

It is critical that civilians be protected, Dujarric said.

The Secretary-General calls on all sides to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, including humanitarian access across Syria to all people in need, as per relevant Security Council resolutions, he added.

Since March 11, some 25,000 people have reportedly left East Ghouta, seeking shelter in the rural Damascus villages of Dweir, Adra and Herjelleh.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.