The United Nations Security Council in New York City discussed the ongoing hostilities in the Syrian city of Idlib, on Tuesday.

Rosemary Di Carlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace-building Affairs, said that “counter-terrorism” cannot overtake obligations under international law to protect civilians and the obligation to strictly observe the principles of distinction and proportionality.

“The problem posed by HTS will need to be dealt with in a more effective and suitable way, one where civilians do not pay the price,” she said.

Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that all parties have specific obligations to refrain from attacking protected sites under international humanitarian law, regardless of whether they have been de-conflicted or not. “It is appalling that these sites were hit in the first place,” he said.

“A number of partners now feel that supplying geographical coordinates to be given to the warring parties effectively paints a target on their backs,” Lowcock added.

Vasili Alekseevich Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, said that Idlib province and other territories of the Syrian Arab Republic should return to the control of the Syrian government, adding, “the terrorists there have to be liquidated.”

“There is a need not to allow terrorism to spill over from Idlib on to other regions of Syria and further in the region. Fighters in the Syrian Arab Republic have already begun to move to Afghanistan, to Libya, and could certainly also return to their countries of origin in Europe or Asia,” said Nebenzya.

Feridun H. Sinirlioglu, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, said that the responsibility to prevent a major catastrophe in Idlib lies not only with the parties to the Sochi Memorandum, but with the Council as well.

“What we are seeing in Idlib cannot be allowed to continue. This latest chapter in the Syrian conflict is an affront to all humanity. Enough blood has been shed. All efforts should now prioritise the needs of millions of Syrians who have suffered tremendously and are putting their faith in us,” said Sinirlioglu.

Majid Takht Ravanchi, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN, said, “It is also obvious that these internationally designated terrorist groups cannot and should not be allowed to continue their control over a large part of a sovereign state’s territory. Otherwise, Idlib will certainly turn into a safe haven for the cruelest terrorists to continue conducting their operations and to kill more civilians inside and outside of Idlib.”

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