UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, deeply alarmed by the military offensive in southwestern Syria and its devastating toll on civilians, is calling for an immediate cessation of military operations, his spokesman said Friday.
Noting that the southwest area of Syria is part of a de-escalation agreement between Jordan, Russia and the US, Guterres “calls on its guarantors to uphold their commitments and all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, protect civilians and facilitate safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
In addition, “all stakeholders must immediately stop attacks directed against medical and educational facilities and put in place security conditions for United Nations cross-border deliveries to resume without further day,” the statement added.
“The Secretary-General urges the international community to unite to put an end to this expanding conflict, which risks further de-stabilizing the region and worsening the deep humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring states.”
Guterres also called on all concerned to focus on moving the political process forward, building on recent consultations in Geneva.
Turkey on Friday condemned the Bashar al-Assad-led regime attacks carried out against civilians in the southwestern Syrian provinces of Daraa and Quneitra.
“In Syria’s southwestern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra, which were declared as de-escalation zones by a memorandum signed in Astana, hundreds of innocent people have been assassinated in the Syrian regime’s attacks targeting civilians,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
“We feel great sorrow and concern about this. We strongly condemn these inhumane attacks,” added Aksoy.
He also said the regime’s attacks “undermine the Astana and Geneva efforts” to find a solution to the political crisis and reduce violence on the ground.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.