US President Barack Obama took the podium at the UN General Assembly on Monday to denounce those who support leaders like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad, accusing him of slaughtering children.
The barb, a direct attack on Russia and Iran for their ongoing military backing for Syria's beleaguered regime, came shortly before Moscow's President Vladimir Putin was to speak.
Obama said some states prefer stability over the international order mandated by the UN Charter, and try to impose it by force.
"We're told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder, that it's the only way to stamp out terrorism or prevent foreign meddling," he said.
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"In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse."
Russia and Iran have argued that world powers should support Bashar al-Assad's regime, at least until Syrian forces manage to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group.
Obama said he was nevertheless "prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict."