Following the United States’ missile launch in Syria earlier this week in response to a chemical weapons attack, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres [official website] on Friday called for restraint [statement] in handling the situation in Syria. Calling the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons “abhorrent,” Guterres emphasized the need for accountability but said any resolution must be done within existing international law [UN News report] so as to avoid “deepen[ing] the suffering of the Syrian people.” This statement comes after the US launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat Airbase in response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib region. Amidst increasing military action, the result of which is a crumbling of Syria’s ceasefire agreement from December 2016, Guterres expressed his belief that there is “no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution.” Syrian military officials called the US missile launch a blatant act of aggression.
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact, particularly in the war-torn region of Aleppo. In February, according to HRW [advocacy site], the Syrian government conducted [JURIST report] “coordinated chemical attacks” on rebel-controlled portions of Aleppo. The same month, more than 13,000 prisoners were hanged [JURIST report] in extrajudicial executions over a 5-year period at Saydnaya prison. Last Wednesday, The UN Security Council conducted emergency talks on Wednesday regarding an alleged chemical attack in Syria that killed numerous civilians [JURIST report]. Following that on Thursday evening, the U.S. military attacked Syria-government airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles [CNBC News].