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UN Chief Guterres Calls For Immediate De-Escalation In Syria


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for 'restraint' in Syria by all parties.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate de-escalation in Syria after Israel carried out air strikes inside the country that has been ravaged by civil war since 2011.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on February 10 that Guterres is "following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the dangerous spillover across its borders."

The spokesman said Guterres stressed that all parties in Syria and in the region must abide by international law amid the flare-up in violence, including air strikes on Iranian-backed positions by Israel and an incursion by Turkish forces in northern Syria.

Dujarric said Guterres "calls on all to work for an immediate and unconditional de-escalation of violence and exercise restraint."

On February 9, Israel said antiaircraft fire downed one of its F-16 fighter jets returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria. The injured pilots were recovered by Israel.

The Israeli action came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian unmanned drone that had entered its airspace.

Syria acknowledged the Israeli attacks on sites within its borders but denied that any of its drones had entered Israeli airspace.

Iran rejected Israel’s version of the events as “ridiculous” and "lies," saying Syria had the right to defend itself in response to the strikes.

The UN statement said the Syrian people are suffering "though one of the most violent periods in nearly seven years of conflict."

"Over 1,000 civilian casualties from air strikes were reported in the first week of February alone."

Israel's UN mbassador, Danny Danon, meanwhile, called on the Security Council "to condemn [Iran’s] dangerous act and to put an immediate end to Iranian provocations."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 10 said his country wants peace but will continue to defend itself against Iran.

Netanyahu said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"I reiterated to [Putin] our obligation and right to defend ourselves against attacks from Syrian territory. We agreed coordination between our armies would continue," Netanyahu said.

The United States said it "strongly supports" Israel's right to defend itself.

"Iran's calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the‎ region - from Yemen to Lebanon -- at risk,"‎ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Guterres urged all concerned to quickly move toward a political solution to end the war, which began when the Syrian government cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in 2011.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in fighting and millions have displaced millions.

Russia and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States and Turkey support differing rebel groups fighting the government.

Diplomats said the Security Council is scheduled to discuss the Syrian crisis on February 14.


With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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