By Nilay Kar Onum
ISTANBUL (AA) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned against any further escalation after the U.S., U.K., and France jointly launched airstrikes targeting the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons capabilities in Syria.
“I have been following closely the reports of airstrikes in Syria conducted by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom," Guterres said in a written statement Friday.
“I call on the members of the Security Council to unite and exercise that responsibility,” Guterres said.
"I urge all member states to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Terming any use of chemical weapons as “abhorrent,” the UN head said: “The suffering it causes is horrendous. I have repeatedly expressed my deep disappointment that the Security Council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for effective accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
“I urge the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and fill this gap. I will continue to engage with the Member States to help achieve this objective,” he added.
In an earlier statement, the UN chief said a new Cold War had begun in the wake of a deadly suspected chemical attack in Syria.
"The Cold War is back -- with a vengeance but with a difference," Guterres told the Security Council during a meeting requested by Russia.
"The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present."
Earlier Friday, the U.S. announced it had "very high confidence" that the Assad regime was responsible for a suspected chemical attack last weekend.
The three countries jointly launched strikes targeting the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons warehouse and a command center related to chemical weapons located west of Homs, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said at a joint news conference with American Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for the alleged chemical attack, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.
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