Guterres: UN Council must prevent Syria spiraling out of control

2018 Anrew Mattews  AP      
                                               Oleg Barabanov

2018 Anrew Mattews AP Oleg Barabanov

Antnio Guterres made the appeal late on Friday evening just hours after the United States, France and Britain launched air strikes targeting sites associated with the country's chemical weapons capabilities.

Guterres also said it was unfortunate that there was no agreement on a mechanism for accountability for the use of chemical weapons.

US President Trump appeared to roll back somewhat on his threat for a military strike against Syria, tweeting that action could be taken "very soon or not so soon at all".

The Secretary General said that France had submitted a proposal to restrict the veto in resolutions on crimes against humanity.

The Security Council members were holding closed-door consultations at the request of Bolivia.

Russian Federation vetoed a U.S. draft on Tuesday, which would have established a new investigative mechanism for one year - as well as identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons.

"From the beginning, we have witnessed systematic violations of global humanitarian law, worldwide human rights law, and global law tout court - in utter disregard of the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter". "Their use is abhorrent and a clear violation of worldwide law". "They know we are there (in Syria)".

In remarks to the Security Council in NY, he said: "I appeal to the Security Council to fulfil its duties and not give up on efforts to agree upon a dedicated, impartial, objective and independent mechanism for attributing responsibility with regard to the use of chemical weapons".

Given the Security Council deadlock, about 45 human rights and aid groups urged Guterres on Friday to appoint a team of investigators to determine blame for toxic gas attacks in Syria.

His comments follow the Council's failure to agree on a response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria's rebel-held Douma over the weekend that has triggered global fury.

French ambassador Francois Delattre added that his government has evidence that the Assad government is responsible for the April 7 chemical attack.

Guterres urged all states "to act responsibly in these risky circumstances". "The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present", Guterres told the U.N. Security Council.

"Let us not forget that, ultimately, our efforts must be about ending the awful suffering of the Syrian people".

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