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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Press Conferences

Deputy Secretary-General's press encounter following Security Council closed consultations on Syria

New York, 21 August 2013

DSG:  I am Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General.  I gave the briefing on behalf of the Secretary-General on the situation in Syria, particularly on the most recent reports of escalation of hostilities and use of chemical weapons.  As you have seen from the statement of the Secretary-General earlier today, he was deeply disturbed, in fact shocked, by these allegations and, of course, we see the need to investigate this as soon as possible. This represents, no matter what conclusions are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences.

We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation.  Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus.  We hope that they will be given access to the area by the Government – there is a requirement of consent in situations like this, and also that the security situation will allow them to enter the area.  It is a very dramatic situation and the security situation right now does not allow such access. 

That is why this should also be seen in the larger and broader perspective, namely the great need for cessation of hostilities.  We need a cessation of hostilities in this particular area, but there is also a need for cessation of hostilities generally.  What this incident has shown is, of course, that we must contain this conflict.  We have already seen effects on the regional implications, and now, the possibility of the use of chemical weapons which is to be investigated.  Let me say that there is no confirmation of this. The Secretary-General has already expressed his preparedness to conduct the investigation.  We are in contact with the Syrian Government.  We hope that all other parties will cooperate, so that we can conduct the investigation.  We also hope that everybody realizes the importance of ceasing the hostilities.

I thank you very much.