NEW YORK, APRIL 7 – As the US responds militarily to a chemical attack, the UN urged restraint to avoid an escalation. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged moderation after the United States responded militarily to an alleged chemical weapons attack earlier this week.
“I continue to follow the situation in Syria closely and with grave concern,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement. Decrying the ‘abhorrent’ chemical weapons attack, the UN chief stressed the need for accountability for such crimes in line with existing international norms and Security Council resolutions. In the wake of the reported US airstrikes, Mr. Guterres said: “Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people.” Meanwhile, the Security Council convened an urgent session to hear an update on the situation in Syria.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said that the 30 December 2016 Syrian ceasefire – brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey – had faltered in the last two months amid a steady escalation of military activity. According to the US, the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the Shayrat Airbase was a response to what it states was the Syrian Government’s use of chemical weapons from the base. The alleged 4 April chemical weapons attack killed many civilians in the Khan Shaykhun area of Idlib. “These events underscore my belief that there is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution,” he said, calling on the parties to urgently renew their commitment to making progress in the Geneva [intra-Syrian talks], Guterres said.
Feltman said that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced that its fact-finding mission is starting to investigate the alleged attack. Iran and Russia condemned the US attack, with the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand expressing some support for the US strikes.
In the Security Council US Ambassador Nikki Haley said that Washington is “ready to do more” if necessary. Moscow condemned the missile launches as act of aggression. “Italy understands the reasons of a US military action, proportionate in time and manner, in response to a prolonged sense of impunity that is completely unacceptable”, the Italian PR Sebastiano Cardi told the security Council: “It is also a sign of deterrence against the risk of a further use of chemical weapons in Syria, in addition to the cases already ascertained by the United Nations, for which there should have been already a prompt and meaningful response, including in terms of accountability”.
Cardi stressed that is now necessary and urgent to reunite all the main actors involved in the Syrian crisis and work together to finally achieve a political solution that takes the Syrian people out of the tragedy they have been suffering for the past six years. “We now have to look forward. Italy calls for the international community to continue and redouble its efforts to achieve a UN-led political transition in Syria in compliance with Resolution 2254 of this Security Council and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué as the only way out to the crisis”.
To read the full speech of Ambassador Cardi, click here. (@OnuItalia)