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US strike on Syria has not helped peace settlement — UN envoy on Syria

On April 14, the US, the UK and France carried out a massive missile strike on Syria without a go-ahead from the UN
UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV
UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. The latest strike on Syria, conducted by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, has not helped peace settlement at any of the existing platforms, UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Friday.

"What has happened last week has not helped Astana, Sochi and Geneva," he said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

On April 14, the United States, the United Kingdom and France carried out a massive missile strike on Syria without getting a go-ahead from the United Nations Security Council. The strikes targeted a research facility in Damascus, the Syrian Guard headquarters, an air defense base, a few military airfields and army depots.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the missile strike against Syria’s military and civilian infrastructure facilities was carried out by US planes and naval ships in cooperation with British and French air forces between 03:42 and 05:10 Moscow time. According to the ministry, the Syrian air defenses shot down 71 out of 103 missiles fired by the United States and its allies.

"I’ve been told by UN Secretary General to accelerate a series of consultations following a very difficult and tense week," the UN special envoy said in Moscow. "We never expected this to be so tense and with a lot of acrimonious meetings at the UN Security Council and [with] a very potential danger to peace and security."

"So, last week was a difficult one," he continued. "And that’s why I’ve been both in Riyadh and Ankara, and certainly now I’m in Moscow and tomorrow I will go on a visit to Tehran in order to assess the situation and see how we can lower the temperature. The priority is clearly to lower the temperature."

The UN official also said Russian-US contacts at various levels have been quite effective in easing the tensions.

"The Russian and the US military deconflicting mechanism has worked and is still working quite effectively. I think this dialogue needs to continue," de Mistura said.

"I understand there has been a useful meeting between senior Russian and American military and even between your ambassador in Washington [Anatoly Antonov] and the new national security adviser [John] Bolton. All this shows that there is important attention to de-escalation," he added.


Douma incident

Speaking about the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, the UN diplomat noted the importance to investigate the reports as thouroughly as possible.

"The alleged chemical attack issue has been and is a very serious issue. And therefore the UN, on our side, has strongly wanted to help and accelerate the OPCW visit to Douma. We hope that it takes place the sooner, the better. We want them to do their job and I’m sure you want the same," de Mistura said.

"There at least we can address the issue of the alleged attack. The next thing and the same thing is to lower the pressure and to relaunch and to keep alive the political process. This is the way that we hope to overcome what was a very dangerous and difficult week," he added.