After Israel-Iran clash, UN chief calls for immediate de-escalation in Syria
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After Israel-Iran clash, UN chief calls for immediate de-escalation in Syria

Israel urges Security Council to condemn Iranian provocations, but diplomats say no immediate plans for it to convene

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018. (AFP/ SIMON MAINA)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018. (AFP/ SIMON MAINA)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for an immediate de-escalation in Syria after Israel carried out raids inside the war-torn country in response to an infiltration by an Iranian drone, and Syrian government launched deadly offensives against rebels.

Guterres is “following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the dangerous spillover across its borders,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Israel targeted what it said were Iranian positions inside Syria after one of its warplanes was hit by Syrian air defenses and crashed. The Israeli raids came after it intercepted an Iranian drone entering its airspace.

Guterres stressed that all concerned in Syria and in the region must abide by international law.

“He calls on all to work for an immediate and unconditional deescalation of violence and exercise restraint,” Dujarric said.

It was the most serious confrontation between Iran and Israel since Syria’s war began in 2011 and came amid growing alarm over Syrian government offensives against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

The Syrian people are suffering “though one of the most violent periods in nearly seven years of conflict,” said the UN statement.

“Over 1,000 civilian casualties from airstrikes were reported in the first week of February alone” in the Syrian government offensives.

Turkey has also launched a major offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Syrian civlians flee from reported regime air strikes in the rebel-held town of Jisreen, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 8, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA)

Guterres urged the parties to move quickly toward a political solution to end the war.

Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon called on the Security Council “to condemn this dangerous act and to put an immediate end to Iranian provocations.”

Diplomats, however, said there were no immediate plans to convene a council meeting despite the sharp rise in tensions.

The council is due to discuss the crisis in Syria on Wednesday.

The incident marks the most significant confrontation between Israel and Syria and Iran since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011.

“All of our warnings regarding Iran have proven correct. We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty,” Danon wrote to UN Security Council members in a letter on Saturday.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, speaks at the General Assembly, December 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

“This is not the first time that we have warned you of Iran’s dangerous actions that undermine the situation in our region. This incident proves every one of those warnings correct. Israel will defend its citizens and will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty,” he wrote.

Danon called on the Security Council to “condemn this dangerous act and to put an immediate end to Iranian provocations.”

“Security Council members must not stand idly by while Iran is instigating dangerous escalations and violating Security Council resolutions,” he said.

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