United Nations chief warns against escalation over Syria

UN chief warns 'Cold War is back' as Syria strikes loom

Guterres remarks came in the wake of combined military air strikes by the U.S., the United Kingdom and France against President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appealed to the five permanent members of the Security Council to break the current deadlock on reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and prevent the situation spiralling out of control in the war-torn country, Financial Express reported.

Addressing the Security Council, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's United Nations envoy, lashed out at Washington, accusing it of a "reckless" response "unworthy of their status as a permanent member" of the Security Council.

"Syria indeed today represents the most serious threat to global peace and security", Guterres said.

"I urge all Member States to show restraint in these unsafe circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation, " he said.

"There are no military solutions to the crisis in Syria", Guterres said.

In this "bleak panorama", the secretary-general said he was "outraged" by continued reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.

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Guterres had termed the use of chemical weapons as "abhorrent", saying the suffering it causes is "horrendous".

"France will shoulder its responsibility to end an intolerable threat to our collective security", said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who called for an end to the "chemical weapons escalation in Syria".

United Nations war crimes investigators on Friday condemned the suspected use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Douma in eastern Ghouta and called for evidence to be preserved with a view to future prosecutions.

Guterres remarks came after the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which was created as a body to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2015, expired in November previous year. "This is exactly the risk we face today - that things spiral out of control", said the United Nations chief. He deplored the fact that the Security Council could not reach agreement on a dedicated mechanism for attributing accountability.

Worldwide chemical weapons experts were travelling to Syria to investigate an alleged gas attack by government forces on Douma which killed dozens of people.

Noting that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were due to visit the site shortly, it underlined the Damascus government's commitment that they will have full access and freedom of movement.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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