On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) said that a military strike on Syria not sanctioned by the UN Security Council would be inadmissible no matter how “limited” it is. Earlier in the day, US President Barack Obama said that a potential military strike on Syria would be a “limited” operation aimed at punishing the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack it allegedly carried out last week.
Late on Friday, MID spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a statement, “Any unilateral military sanction bypassing the UN Security Council, no matter how ‘limited’ it is, will be a direct violation of international law, [it’ll] undermine the possibility to solve the conflict in Syria by political and diplomatic means, [and] bring about a new round of confrontation and casualties”. He said that even some American allies suggested that the USA should postpone all decisions on Syria until a team of UN chemical weapons experts completes its work in the country. Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made the same proposal. The MID spokesman said, “Threats of striking Syria are being issued instead of implementing the decisions of the G8 summit in Lough Erne [and] subsequent agreements to provide the UN Security Council with a comprehensive evaluation by UN experts, who investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria”.
Britain backed the American incursion into Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but on Thursday, the British parliament rejected military involvement in Syria. At the same time, Turkey, a key American ally in the region and Syria’s neighbour, said that a “limited” action against Syria wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Ankara; it said that what’s needed is a full-fledged military intervention in Syria, similar to the one in Kosovo in 1999. Hürriyet quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying, “A limited military action won’t satisfy us. It [the intervention] should be like in Kosovo”.
On Friday, the UN secretary general cut short his official visit in Europe and returned to New York for consultations on Syria with UN members. Reuters reported, citing diplomatic sources, that he said that the study of data and samples collected by the UN investigators on the site of the alleged attack might take about two weeks. The UN team, deployed in Syria last Sunday, is set to leave the country on Saturday. A high-ranking team member, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, shall brief the UN chief on the work of the mission later that day.
Earlier on Friday, the White House released a declassified intelligence assessment of an apparent 21 August chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, which the administration asserts “with high confidence” was carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The report states that 1,429 people were killed in the alleged assault, including at least 426 children, although it said that assessment “will certainly evolve as we obtain more information”. Repeatedly, the Syrian authorities rejected all accusations. The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement read out on State TV on Friday that the American report was “entirely fabricated”. AFP quoted the statement, “What the US administration describes as irrefutable evidence… is nothing but tired legends that the terrorists have been circulating for more than a week, with their share of lies and entirely-fabricated stories”.
30 August 2013