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SG/SM/19987
28 February 2020

Escalation of Syria Conflict Could Have Much More Dramatic Humanitarian, Other Impacts, Secretary-General Warns in Remarks to Security Council

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on Syria, in New York today:

I would like to say a few words to express my deep concern with what I believe is the changing nature of the conflict in Idlib.

The Council is well aware of the dramatic humanitarian situation in the region, namely following the most recent offensive.  But beyond the dramatic humanitarian situation, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the conflict has changed in its nature.  And we have witnessed a very meaningful escalation in the last few days.

I want to take profit of this occasion to express my deep gratitude to Ambassador [Vassily] Nebenzia of the Russian Federation and Ambassador Feridun [Hadi Sinirlioğlu] of Turkey – they have been always available to me – allowing me not only to have the necessary contacts but facilitating the contacts with the two countries that have been very useful in my commitment to follow very closely the events.

But indeed, it is my belief that if one looks at what has happened in recent days – and knowing that there was this morning a phone conversation between those Presidents, of the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation, and that there was a Russian delegation in Ankara that met the day before yesterday and today – as far as I’m informed, without having a solution found, I think all this creates an environment in which the risk of the escalation getting out of control, taking into account the volume of the forces that are in Idlib and around Idlib, is something that cannot be taken lightly.

And so, when I’ve been insisting on the need to stop the fighting, the need for a ceasefire, I take into account not only the humanitarian consequences of the fighting — and of course, any escalation would have inevitably more dramatic humanitarian consequences — but the enormous risk that the potential escalation itself could represent with the conflict of a different nature that could have much more dramatic impact.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, and now I’d like to ask Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo to brief the Council.

For information media. Not an official record.