UN special envoy warns against ‘disturbing and dangerous’ military escalation in Syria

Mr. Pedersen fears the increased military activity is likely to unravel a strategic stalemate in a war that has been relatively peaceful for nearly three years.

‘Escalation momentum’

“In my repeated briefings, I warned about the dangers of military escalation in Syria. Today I am directly here to tell you that The momentum of escalation is in progressand this is disturbing and dangerous,” he said.

He reported that in recent months, mutual attacks have gradually increased in the north between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the one hand and Türkiye and armed opposition groups on the other, with violence spill over the border.

Following the deadly bombing of Istanbul earlier this month, Türkiye has launched air strikes on what it says are terrorist targets across northern Syria and Iraq. SDF attacks on Turkish forces and armed opposition-controlled areas as well as inside Turkish territory have also been reported.

Tendency to ‘deeply worry’

Meanwhile, pro-government ground and air attacks have occurred in Idlib, northwestern Syria – the last area held by rebel groups – hitting camps receiving evacuees. domestic.

Reported terrorist attacks have also been carried out against Syrian forces in Government-controlled areas.

Furthermore, airstrikes purportedly carried out by Israel hit Damascus, Homs, Hama and Latakia, prompting the Syrian government’s air defenses to respond. There were also reports of air strikes on the border between Syria and Iraq, among other incidents.

“Trend lines are very worrisome and carry real danger of further escalation,” Mr. Pedersen told the Council.

“Therefore, let me appeal loudly and clearly to all parties to restrain themselves and engage in serious efforts to restore calm, towards a nationwide cease-fire and an approach to cooperative approach to combat terrorism in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

A mother in Raqqa city, Syria, goes to get medicine for her child with diarrhea and is also taught how to disinfect water to prevent cholera.

© UNICEF/Delil Souleiman

A mother in Raqqa city, Syria, goes to get medicine for her child with diarrhea and is also taught how to disinfect water to prevent cholera.

Building stakeholder trust

In the interim, Mr. Pedersen continued to work with stakeholders to push for what he called “step-by-step confidence-building measures” toward a Syrian-led political process.

He will also engage more with the Government during his visit to Damascus next week.

However, the UN envoy lamented that the Syrian Constitutional Committee had not met for six months, noting that it was the only process that brought together representatives nominated by the Government, the opposition and civil society.

“The longer it lay dormant, the harder it was to get active again. And the absence of a credible political process can only fuel further conflict and instability,” he observed.

‘A fork in the road’

Speaking about the general situation in Syria, Mr. Pedersen worried that “we are at a crossroads” before the possibility of a resumption of major military operations.

“I fear what this will mean for ordinary Syrians, as well as for broader stability in the region. And I also fear a scenario where the situation escalates partly because there is today no serious attempt to resolve the conflict politically” he say.

He outlined the steps for the way forward, which included stopping the escalation and restoring relative calm on the ground, as well as the resumption of the Constitutional Commission meetings in Geneva.

Increased demand

This approach also calls for action on the humanitarian front. According to UN aid director Martin Griffiths, who also informed the Council, more and more Syrians need relief each year to survive.

“We expect to see an increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance from 14.6 million won this year to more than 15 million in 2023,” he said.

Based on the Special Envoy’s remarks, Mr. Griffiths reported that recent hostilities in the north have had an adverse impact on civilians and critical civilian infrastructure.

“Like Geir…I am equally appalled by the most recent murders reported at Al Hol camp of two girls, aged 12 and 15. Life there was miserable, but their death there was a tragedy,” he added.

Fight to survive

Mr. Griffiths reminded the ambassadors that northern Syria continues to face a water crisis due to factors such as insufficient rainfall, severe drought conditions, damaged water infrastructure and the Euphrates River level. short.

“Present cholera spread fast, a water-borne disease, so it should come as no surprise to anyone. “The fact that cholera has also entered Lebanon should not, as we know all too well, know that the disease knows no borders,” he said.

The escalating global food prices have also hit the Syrian people hard, and they are struggling to get food on the table, while another harsh winter is approaching, with millions of families. live in tents.

Syrians need peace

The head of the UN humanitarian agency stressed the importance of maintaining the delivery of aid to northwestern Syria through cross-border operations from Türkiye, which expires at the end of the year.

He emphasized the greater need for peace, highlighting the important work of the United Nations Special Envoy.

“What the Syrian people want is to see me go and he comes; to see the need for aid disappear, and the arrival of peace Mr. Griffiths said.

“And that, of course, is the main quest and reason for existence of this Council, and we must hope that we see these things happen soon.”


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