US-led Strikes on Syria Didn’t Help Build Peace – UN Envoy
REUTERS / Bassam KhabiehMiddle East17:48 20.04.2018(updated 20:01 20.04.2018) Get short URL181
The US, the UK, and France fired over 100 missiles at targets inside of Syria in a response to an alleged chemical attack in the city, which they rushed to blame on Damascus.
The US, British and French strikes against Syria did not contribute to the settlement process, UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“What happened last week did not help Astana, Sochi, or Geneva,” he stressed.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Friday that he was pleased to see Moscow strongly committed to the political process in Syria despite the US, UK and French missile strikes on the Arab republic carried out last week.
“Regarding the political process, I am pleased to hear from [Foreign] Minister [Sergey] Lavrov and [Defense] Minister [Sergei] Shoigu that despite what happened last week there is still a strong commitment from Russia to push for political process… That is why, the follow-up to Sochi, work in Astana on de-escalation and discussion in Geneva on constitutional committee and elections, is a priority,” de Mistura told reporters after meeting with Russia’s foreign minister in Moscow.
READ MORE: Syria Chemical Attack: Russia Isn’t Obstructing OPCW Investigation – UK Official
De Mistura noted that the deconfliction mechanism introduced by the Russian and US forces operating in Syria has worked effectively, allowing to avoid the worsening of the situation in the Middle Eastern country, and should continue.
“The Russian and the US military deconflicting mechanism has worked and is still working quite effectively. I think this dialogue needs to continue and has been able to avoid the much worse consequences. I understand there has been a useful meeting between the senior Russian and American military, and even between your ambassador in Washington [Anatoly Antonov] and new [US] National Security Adviser [John] Bolton. All this shows that there is an important attention to de-escalation,” the envoy said.
De Mistura pointed out that apart from Moscow, he had visited Riyadh and Ankara over the past week, and plans to hold talks in Tehran, too, in bid to “lower the temperature” in Syria.
The envoy’s claim comes after last week, the United States and its allies Britain and France conducted a missile strike on Syria. The attack was prompted by an alleged chemical incident in the Syrian city of Douma near Damascus.
On OPCW Probe Into Alleged Chemical Attack
The envoy expressed hope that experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will soon visit Syria’s Douma to investigate into an alleged chemical attack in the area.
“The alleged chemical attack is a very serious issue, and therefore the UN has been on our side strongly wanting to help accelerate the OPCW visit to Douma… The sooner the better. I am sure you want the same,” de Mistura told reporters after his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
Earlier this month, a number of media outlets and Western countries accused Damascus of using chemical weapons in Douma, located in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, on April 7. The Syrian government and Russia have refuted the allegations, saying that the attack in Douma was staged by militants and the White Helmets to influence public opinion and justify possible intervention.
On April 14, the United States, France and the United Kingdom carried out a missile attack on a number of targets in Syria, including the facilities in Barzeh and Jamraya, in response to an alleged attack in Douma. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, a total of 103 cruise missiles were launched by the United States and its allies, 71 of which were intercepted by Syria’s air defense systems. Moscow called on the OPCW to launch an investigation into the attack.
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The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission arrived in Damascus earlier this week, however, it has not entered Douma yet over security risks. According to the OPCW, the United Nations Department of Safety and Security has reached an agreement with the Syrian authorities to escort the team to a certain location and after that it would be accompanied by the Russian Military Police.
A source in the Syrian security forces told Sputnik earlier on Friday that the UN group ensuring security of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission had entered Douma.