UN chief urges ‘restraint’ after US strike in Syria
UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged restraint and the search for a political solution in Syria a day after the United States struck an air base in the country in retaliation for a chemical attack.
“Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people,” he said in a statement. “There is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution.”
The UN-backed ceasefire task force on Syria will meet on Friday at Russia’s request, the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria said, after the United States struck a regime airbase overnight.
The UN Security Council will at 11:30 am (1530 GMT) to discuss the US missile strikes on Syria, US diplomats confirmed.
Russia demanded an emergency meeting after angrily denouncing the military action as an “aggression against a sovereign state.”
“An emergency meeting of the ISSG (International Syria Support Group) Ceasefire Taskforce will take place later today,” the office of special envoy Staffan de Mistura said.
“The meeting, which will be chaired by the Special Envoy, was requested by the Russian Federation co-chair and agreed upon by the United States co-chair.”
US President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town that killed 86 people and shocked the world.
The strike — the first direct US action against President Bashar al-Assad and Trump’s biggest military decision since taking office — marked a dramatic escalation in American involvement in Syria’s six-year war.
The Security Council failed during a meeting Thursday to agree on terms for an investigation of the suspected sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun.
Council members will hold an open meeting on Friday and hear a briefing on the US military action, the US mission to the United Nations said. The United States holds this month’s presidency of the Security Council.
Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov on Thursday warned of “negative consequences” from the US military action, which he described as a “doubtful, tragic enterprise.”
“Look at Iraq, look at Libya,” he said, referring to Western interventions that unleashed years of chaos in those countries.
At least 27 children died in the suspected attack in Khan Sheikhun. Results from post-mortems performed on victims point to exposure to the deadly sarin nerve agent, according to Turkish health officials