UN chief urges maximum restraint amid rising tensions along Syrian-Turkish border

Friday, October 05, 2012
Washington: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday (4 October) voiced his alarm at escalating tensions along the Syrian-Turkish border, and called on all concerned to exercise maximum restraint.

According to media reports at least six Turkish civilians were killed Wednesday after mortar fire from Syria hit the town of Akcakale in Turkey's Sanliurfa province, which shares a border with Syria.

Turkey's parliament yesterday authorized further military action against Syria, as Turkey began its second day of shelling targets within Syria in response to yesterday's incident, according to media reports.

In a statement read out at the daily press briefing at UN headquarters, Ban's spokesman said the Secretary-General had "repeatedly made clear his concern about the spillover of the Syrian crisis into neighbouring countries, as occurred yesterday with Turkey".

He noted that "as the situation inside Syria deteriorates yet further – including the atrocious terrorist bombings in Aleppo this week which killed dozens of people including civilians – the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace and security are also increasing".

The spokesman said Ban called on "on all concerned to abandon the use of violence, exercise maximum restraint and exert all efforts to move toward a political solution".

Meanwhile, the Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja'afari told reporters at UN headquarters he had submitted a letter to the UN Security Council offering Syria's condolences for the deaths resulting from mortar fire into Turkey and saying that an investigation was underway.

However, his government also wanted to "explain" to the Turkish people that the Turkish government's policies towards Syria were "wrong, and have been wrong since the beginning of the crisis".

He called for Turkey and other neighbouring countries to "show responsibility" in preventing terrorist groups from entering Syria.

The Security Council was not able to agree on a draft statement, tabled by Azerbaijan Wednesday, condemning the mortar fire from Syria into Turkey, according to Rice. She said amendments circulated today by Russia were "not acceptable" to several members and negotiations would continue.

She stressed that there were already "broader ramifications for the security of the region and potentially also for international peace and security" from the Syrian conflict, and the conflict was therefore "squarely in the wheelhouse of the Security Council and deserves appropriate and meaningful action."

More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began last year. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates. 
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