Meeting after the missiles: UN, EU, NATO hold urgent consultations on Syria
International bodies have met in the wake of the US-led strike against Syria, which was conducted without a UN mandate, just hours before the OPCW was to begin its on-site inquiry into the Douma alleged gas attack.
US President Donald Trump's decision to rain missiles down on Damascus in the early hours of Saturday morning, along with the UK and France, was not sanctioned by the United Nations, and it bypassed an on-the-ground fact-finding mission into the alleged April 7 gas attack in eastern Ghouta. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was scheduled to begin its on-site investigation on Saturday.
Numerous international bodies and governments convened on Saturday to assess the aftermath of the American-British-French military action.
Moscow-sponsored resolution calling to stop aggression in Syria fails at UNSC
The draft resolution proposed by Russia that called for an immediate stop of the Western aggression against Syria's legitimate government was turned down by the UN Security Council, with only China, Bolivia and Russia itself rallying behind it during the vote at the body's emergency session requested by Moscow. Russia's envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, slammed the US-led attack on Syria's civilian and military infrastructure as "aggression against a sovereign state," which constitutes a "blatant disregard of the international law." The diplomat argued that the trio of allies could have stopped the lingering conflict in Syria "within 24 hours," by simply withdrawing support for their "pocket terrorists."
US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley warned that the US is ready to resort to military force in Syria, saying that it "is locked and loaded" to strike again if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons. "When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line," she added.
Ahead of the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the series of coordinated strikes on Saturday "an aggression against a sovereign state which is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism." Putin stressed that the multi-national strikes were carried out "in violation of the UN Charter and principles of international law," and they will have "a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations."
Moscow repeatedly warned the US and its allies against attacking Syria, urging instead for an impartial investigation into the alleged chemical attack.
Responding to the US-led airstrikes on Damascus, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that all countries are obliged to "act consistently" with the UN Charter. "There's an obligation, particularly when dealing with the matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nationals and with international law in general."
EU foreign ministers to "consult each other" on strikes
Foreign ministers of 28 EU states will meet on April 16 in Luxembourg to discuss the US-led strikes, according to Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. "EU foreign ministers will have the opportunity to consult each other on this situation at a meeting of the Council to be held on Monday," Reynders said. He added that while he understood the justification behind the strikes, it was nonetheless "important to establish mechanisms to prevent this in the future and resume dialogue."
A separate meeting between Germany, France, Britain and the United States has been scheduled for Sunday, during which the countries are set to discuss the strikes and coordinate further actions, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Saturday. The talks will be held in the British capital.
NATO chief calls US-led strikes 'last resort' at emergency meeting
NATO envoys were briefed about the airstrikes on the Syrian government targets, the US, the UK and France claim are key to the production of Syria's chemical weapons at a special session at the alliance headquarters. The military action, which the alliance was not involved in, received "full support" from all 26 NATO members, the North Atlantic Council said in a statement, calling on Russia to "exercise responsibility to ensure that the Syrian regime participates constructively in the UN-led Geneva process." Speaking to media after the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the overnight strikes, calling the military action "a last resort" that was "aimed to stop more chemical attacks."
I support the actions by the US, UK and France against the #Syrian regime's chemical weapons facilities and capabilities. #NATO considers the use of chemical weapons unacceptable. Those responsible must be held accountable. https://t.co/HPQ4YpTT7Y— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) April 14, 2018
May to 'update' Parliament on strikes it wasn't allowed to debate
British Prime Minister Theresa May will update Parliament on the strikes, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told BBC radio. The missile attack was not approved by lawmakers, with the prime minister claiming that there was "no alternative" to striking Syria and that the attack was "right and legal."
Collective Security Treaty Organization condemns Western airstrikes
The permanent council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) condemned the US-led attack as a violation of the basic principles of international law and the UN Charter at an emergency meeting convened by Russia. The CSTO is a post-Soviet block that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. It reaffirmed its commitment to maintain and support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria.
The organization said that the actions of the US and its allies go "against the efforts to quickly eliminate the terrorist threat in Syria" and resolve the conflict diplomatically, "leading to the degradation of the humanitarian situation in this country."
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