The UN secretary-general fears a total military escalation in Syria, a situation which, he insists, stems in part from the inaction of the institution he leads. For Antonio Guterres, it is the duty of the Security Council to set up an investigative mechanism capable of identifying those responsible for attacks on chemical weapons. And that has not been done yet.
“I invite the Security Council to fulfill its duties and to agree on a specialized, impartial, objective and independent mechanism to assign responsibility for the use of chemical weapons,” he said. of the UN Security Council meeting held on Friday on the threat of missile fire against Damascus.
Guterres thus traces a direct link between the growing tensions in Syria and the inability of the UN to put this accountability mechanism in place.
“This is likely to lead to a real military escalation,” he insisted to the great powers of the planet Friday morning.
According to the Syrian White Helmets and the NGO Syrian American Medical Society, dozens of people were killed on April 7 in Douma in an attack on “toxic gases” attributed by Westerners to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which denies any responsibility .
Since then, Moscow, Washington, London and Paris are at the center of an escalation of warlike rhetoric. It’s all about the evidence – or the lack of evidence – about the sponsors of this attack that killed at least 40 people.
On Friday, Russia accused Britain of organizing a false chemical attack in Duma, a bold accusation that London vehemently denies and describes as a “blatant lie.”
General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that the images of the victims of the alleged attack were staged with “the direct involvement of Britain”, without providing evidence.
He accused London of “exerting strong pressure” on the Syrian White Helmets in rebel zone, the first alerted of this alleged chemical attack, “to put in place this provocation prepared in advance”.
Also on Friday, the United States has officially announced that it has evidence of Damascus’ participation in the alleged April 7 attack, “with a very high level of confidence”. They did not make it public.
“We can say that the Syrian government is behind the attack,” State Department spokesman Heather Nauert told a news conference. When asked if the United States had evidence, she said yes.
Nauert added that a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would arrive in Syria on Saturday to gather evidence.
Thursday, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, said: “We have evidence that last week, there are now nearly 10 days, chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine, and they were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”
The French head of state was however careful to reveal the said evidence.
On the side of Great Britain, we are more cautious. London does not speak of conclusive evidence of the Syrian regime’s involvement in the alleged chemical attack and prefers to rely on the “coordination of an international response” on a possible military response, a question that deeply divides the opinion and political class of the country led by Theresa May.
The military response of the West
Westerners were reviewing Friday their military options to punish the Syrian regime, despite repeated warnings from Moscow and the boss of the UN.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unwavering support for the Bashar Al-Assad regime has warned his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron against any “reckless and dangerous act” in Syria, which could have “unforeseeable consequences”.
For its part, the regime of Bashar Al-Assad warned the UN that he would have no choice but to defend himself if he was attacked.
After talking about imminent missile strikes in the middle of the week, the US president has been actively pursuing consultations with US allies on the punitive strikes he promised on Twitter.
Donald Trump spoke with Mr. Macron about this, and consultations between military advisers were held late in the day at the White House.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes White House officials, US officials are still debating the scale to be given to a military operation against the Damascus regime.
Mr. Trump wants more retaliation than the options presented by his advisers and would be “dissatisfied”. He reportedly told Defense Minister Jim Mattis of his desire to strike not only Syria, but also to punish his allies, Russia and Iran.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on members of the Security Council “to act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances”.