8347th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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11-Sep-2018 01:46:27
United States will respond to chemical weapons use in any assault on Idlib, delegate warns, as Security Council considers outcome of Astana Process Summit at 8347th meeting.

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By violating the last de‑escalation zone in the Syria conflict, the Russian Federation and Iran are not demonstrating a commitment to protecting civilian lives, and it is absurd to think the world will pay for reconstruction as they pummel Idlib, the representative of the United States told the Security Council today.

Speaking in her national capacity as members considered the outcome of the Astana summit held in Tehran last week, the Council President for September said the Russian Federation and Iran have been using outright lies to “distort the conversation”, adding that this month alone, the world has seen more than 100 air strikes in Idlib, targeting hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as “double‑tap” attacks on “white helmets”. She warned that the United States will respond if chemical weapons are used.

The Russian Federation’s delegate responded by noting that many speakers requested that his country divulge its plans for Idlib, yet his delegation would also like members of the Western Coalition to outline their own plans. Instead of sharing that information, they continue to issue threats, he said. During the Council meeting on 7 September, Western colleagues began to warn that a military operation by Syria would merit the use of force against a sovereign State, he recalled. “Let us be clear; we are not talking about a military operation here, we are talking about a counter‑terrorism operation.”

Earlier, he briefed the 15‑member Council on the outcome of the Astana summit, describing it as “a major milestone” in efforts to restore peace in Syria. The joint statement issued by the Presidents of the Russian Federation, Iran and Turkey reaffirmed their commitments to eliminating terrorists, protecting civilians, rebuilding the country and moving the political process forward, he said. Furthermore, they agreed unanimously on the effectiveness of the Astana process, rejecting “political blackmailing” by the United States and other Western partners and pledging to continue the tripartite dialogue.

Iran’s representative said that, as a victim of chemical weapons, his country’s Government strongly condemns any use of such weapons by anyone, anytime and anywhere. Syria has destroyed all its chemical weapons under international supervision, and it is therefore a fabrication to allege that the Government of Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons. He stressed that the three guarantors are determined to continue their cooperation to eliminate all terrorists designated as such by the Security Council, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Nusrah Front.

Turkey’s delegate warned that an all‑out military operation will result in a massive wave of refugees and tremendous security risks for his country, which already hosts 3.5 million refugees. Noting that the Syrian regime seeks to legitimize its operation on counter‑terrorism grounds, he cautioned that a military operation in Idlib will only play into the hands of terrorists.

The United Kingdom’s representative said the Security Council faces a choice between a military assault on Idlib in which thousands of civilians will die, and allowing Turkey and opposition groups the support, time and space to separate out and tackle the terrorists. Council members should be discussing how the Syrian regime can work with the opposition to restore security and stability to Idlib, she emphasized, asking why the Council cannot spend time building upon the efforts of the Astana process.

Poland’s delegate struck a similar note, expressing her delegation’s disappointment that the Astana summit ended without tangible agreement.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Netherlands, France, China, Sweden, Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Peru, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.

As the meeting began, Council members observed a moment of silence to honour the victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The meeting began at 11:05 a.m. and ended at 12:52 p.m.
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