United Nations chief: Syria tensions 'threaten full-blown military escalation


United Nations chief: Syria tensions 'threaten full-blown military escalation

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced "regret" Wednesday that the Security Council had failed to agree on the proper recourse to a suspected chemical attack in Syria that killed dozens of people.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, accused the US of unfairly taking advantage of reports of a chemical attack against Syrian citizens to plot the topping of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has been linked to the attack that killed dozens of people last weekend in the rebel-held town of Douma.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should urgently appoint a team of investigators to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Human Rights Watch and 44 other human rights and humanitarian groups said in a statement released today. France is reported to be one of the strongest backers of a possible strike which Russian Federation strongly opposes.

"Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and its coverups", she said of Syria's strongest ally. The draft resolution would have endorsed an ongoing probe being conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) but would have done nothing else.

He said the highly volatile situation risks "escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see with profound regional and global ramifications".

"Our president has not yet made a decision about possible action in Syria".

Asked whether Washington has proof Assad launched the attack on Douma, the main city in the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "Yes".

And he said the safeguards and mechanisms that managed the risk of escalation between the USA and the Soviet Union in the past "no longer seem to be present".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has urged calm and efforts to restitute peace in Syria during separate calls this week with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

"It seems that with the latest developments, the atmosphere has eased somewhat", Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul. He said it is also "high time to end the Libyan conflict". But the secretary-general took a much broader view of the often-interlinked factors escalating the chaos and threatening peace in the Middle East.

The US and its allies are considering launching missile strikes against Syria after a suspected chemical attack, an action which Russian Federation - whose forces are there supporting the government- has said would risk starting a war.

China supports the United Nations in playing an active role and calls on the global community to stick to diplomacy and the course of political settlement, give full play to the role of the United Nations as the main mediator, he said.

"History will record that, on this day, Russian Federation chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people", Haley said, referring to Assad. Both Russia and Syria have denied it.

Syrian government has signaled full cooperation, "We will facilitate the arrival of the team to anywhere they want, in Douma, to check whether or not there was use of chemical substance" said Bashar Jaafari, Syria's envoy to the United Nations in NY, adding that a second team is due to arrive on Friday.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is deepening again, he said.

"However ... any action that would lead to the failure or harm activities led by Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation toward a lasting peace should be avoided", Yildirim said. Meanwhile, Russia and the U.S. trade accusations over suspected chemical attack in Syria. He says Moscow has "irrefutable information that it was another fabrication". Troianovski reported from Moscow.