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Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Friday that the US is “prepared to do more” in Syria, a day after launching a missile strike on a Syrian air base following the chemical weapons attacks in that country earlier this week.

Ms Haley, speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council, described the strike as a “very measured step”, adding: “We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary.” She also singled out Iran and Russia, asking them to “hold their ally responsible” and saying that they bore some responsibility for the chemical attacks by standing behind Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s UN representative defended the Assad regime, calling the American air strikes an “act of aggression” and saying that the US’s actions would embolden terrorist groups.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN earlier condemned what he described as the US’s “illegitimate actions”.

The missile strikes last night revealed deep divisions on the UN Security Council, which was called into an emergency meeting Friday morning by Russia, a backer of the Assad regime. They also mark the first direct intervention by the US military against Syrian government forces, and a significant break with US policy under the Obama administration.

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