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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General – on Syria

14 October 2019

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned over the military developments in northeast Syria, which have already reportedly resulted in many civilian casualties and the displacement of at least 160,000 civilians. He continues to urge for maximum restraint and stresses that any military operation must fully respect international law, including the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General calls for immediate de-escalation and urges all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that civilians not taking part in hostilities must be protected at all times. Likewise, civilian infrastructure must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law. He recognizes in particular the vulnerabilities of internally displaced persons. He further stresses that sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to civilians in need must be guaranteed, including through the cross-border modality, in order to allow the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to continue to carry out its critical work in northern Syria.

He also notes with serious concern that the current military operations could lead to the unintended release of individuals associated with ISIL, with all the consequences this could entail.

The Secretary-General recalls Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which stresses that any solution to the Syria crisis must reaffirm the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.


New York, 14 October 2019