The United States has threatened further military action in Syria following its missile strikes on an airbase in response to this week's alleged chemical attack in the Arab country that it blamed on the government.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered the warning on Friday during an emergency session of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York City.
"The United States took a very measured step last night," she declared. "We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary."
The US military fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province in western Syrian early Friday.
The missiles were launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean. The strike killed nine civilians, including four children on Friday, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.
US President Donald Trump ordered the strike just a day after he pointed the finger at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack which killed at least 70 people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib.
President Trump said the operation was in response to the chemical attack in Idlib province. The Syrian government has strongly denied responsibility for that attack.
Haley told the Security Council, "We were fully justified in doing so.”
"The United States will no longer wait for Assad to use chemical weapons without any consequences," she said without providing a shred of evidence to back her claim. "Those days are over."
“Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it,” she stated. “He thought he could get away with it because he thought Russia had his back. That changed last night.”
Meanwhile, Russia, which called the emergency Security Council meeting on Friday, condemned the United States for violating international law and committing an "act of aggression" against Syria.
"The United States attacked the territory of sovereign Syria," Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov to the UN told the council. "We describe that attack as a flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression."
"It’s not difficult to imagine the spirits of these terrorists have been raised after the support from Washington," he said.
The US military claimed the airfield targeted early on Friday was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian aircraft.
This is while Damascus volunteered to destroy its chemical stockpile in 2014 following a poisonous attack outside the capital.