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UN calls for restraint following Iran consulate attack in Syria

Briefing ambassadors a day after the attack, Assistant-Secretary-General Khaled Khiari stressed the need for restraint.  

“We appeal to the Council today, as we do every month, to continue to actively engage all concerned parties to prevent further escalation and the worsening of tensions that undermine regional peace and security,” he said. 

Respect diplomatic premises 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the attack, his Spokesperson said on Tuesday, reaffirming that the principle of the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases. 

The UN chief reminded all parties to respect all their obligations under international law, and urged all concerned to avoid attacks that could harm civilians and damage civilian infrastructure. 

Mr. Khiari said Iran sent identical letters to the Secretary-General and the Security Council on Monday stating that Israel had attacked its diplomatic premises in Damascus, killing at least five personnel, including senior military advisors, and injuring others. 

Subsequent media reports indicate that the death toll has risen to 13 – seven Iranian personnel and six Syrian citizens, he added, before reiterating the Secretary-General’s condemnation. 

Uphold territorial integrity 

“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States must be respected in accordance with international law,” said Mr. Khiari, whose portfolio straddles political and peacebuilding affairs as well as peace operations.

“The rules-based international order is essential for international peace and security, which this Council is mandated to maintain.” 

He recalled that the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, has kept the Council apprised of the unrelenting violence in the country, which recently marked 13 years of war. 

Six foreign armies are operating on Syrian territory impacting the lives of civilians and putting a peaceful resolution of the conflict farther out of reach. 

Increase in attacks 

“Among them, increasingly lethal attacks on Iran-linked targets in Syria have been attributed to Israel, especially since the current conflict with Hamas in Gaza began on 7 October. Open sources have reported at least a dozen such attacks since the beginning of this year,” he said.

“While Israel has rarely claimed responsibility for any of these incidents, its officials have repeatedly acknowledged its military operations in Syria and have suggested that more such operations will occur in the future,” he added, underlining the need for the Council’s continued engagement.

Mr. Khiari concluded by underscoring the Secretary-General’s appeal for restraint. 

Any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East,” he said. 

Mr. Pedersen, the UN Envoy for Syria, also warned against the dangers of miscalculation in a statement on Tuesday condemning the attack.

“At a time of heightened violence and dangers in the region, instead of escalations, actors should be strictly respecting their obligations under international law. It is vital that all concerned exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation,” he said.

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