Syria tensions 'threaten full-blown military escalation' - United Nations chief

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"Unilaterally taking military action by circumventing the Security Council is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter and runs counter to the norms of global law and those governing worldwide relations". Bolivia's U.N. Ambassador Sacha Llorenti told the council that the push for war is an effort of imperialist powers, namely the United States. "We must not stay silent in the face of chemical weapons use in our own time".

"I have been closely following the reports of air strikes in Syria conducted by the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

We are banking on sober thinking among both American politicians and USA military brass, who perfectly understand that the risk of a clash between the two superpowers really does exist", he said. But the secretary-general took a much broader view of the often-interlinked factors escalating the chaos and threatening peace in the Middle East.

"I call on the members of the Security Council to unite and exercise that responsibility", Guterres said.

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"We hope that there will be no point of no return, that the USA and the allies will refrain from military action against a sovereign state", Nebenzia told reporters on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported. The United States is consulting with Britain and France about a joint military response to an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma that medics and rescuers said left at least 40 people dead on Saturday. Both Russia and Syria have denied it. Meanwhile, Russia and the USA trade accusations over suspected chemical attack in Syria.

Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise "threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation", Guterres warned, and risk "that things spiral out of control". "The secretary-general has the means and authority to take command of the situation as his predecessors did by establishing an investigative unit that will unmask those behind chemical attacks in Syria". France is reported to be one of the strongest backers of a possible strike which Russian Federation strongly opposes. The country is Assad's most powerful ally and has thousands of troops and military advisers, as well as air-defense systems, deployed in Syria.

After warning in a belligerent tweet earlier this week that "missiles are coming", Trump has backed off from talk of imminent action and is meeting with military commanders to look at options. Russian Federation also could fire at the launch platforms used - potentially USA planes or ships.

In August 2016, a report by the United Nations and the OPCW said the Syrian military used chemical weapons in the town of Talmenes in April 2013 and Sarmin in March 2015, while the Islamic State employed mustard gas in the town of Marea in August 2015.

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France's President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, on Friday called for stepped-up talks with Moscow and spoke to President Vladimir Putin by phone.

"Not only the use of force but also its threat flies in the face of the United Nations charter and this is precisely what we have seen in recent rhetoric and actions by Washington and some of its allies".

The secretary general urged the Security Council to reach a common position on an accountability mechanism that can demarcate the responsibilities of such acts.

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