Ban Ki-moon Warns Against Punitive Strike on Syria

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday, Sept. 3, against the risk of a "punitive" action in Syria, favoring a political solution to the conflict than the military intervention, supported by Paris and Washington. Ban Ki-moon did not indicate that the UN has been so far useless in resolving the Syrian conflict.

At a press conference, the UN chief called on supporters to consider the consequences of military strikes.

He also recalled that the UN Charter provides for the legal use of force only in self-defense or with the approval of the Security Council - which is still blocked because of the Russian-Chinese veto. Ban Ki-moon has not ruled on the use of chemical weapons on August 21 in Damascus, despite the "evidence" put forward in recent days by France and the United States. However, he said that if this were proved, it would be a "terrible war crime" and that the Council should work together to address them.

On Monday, Syria's official SANA news agency had reported that the government of Bashar al-Assad had asked Ban Ki-moon to work in order to "prevent any aggression against Syria" - so as the prospect of strikes approached - , denying once again the use of chemical weapons, which implied he crossed the "red line" Obama defined.

From 26 to 31 August, the UN inspectors conducted an on-site investigation of the attack on August 21 to determine whether chemical weapons have been used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The analysis of samples, photos and stories they have gathered led the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, could take no less than three weeks. That is considered far too longer by the Obama administration to wait before responding. It will also give too much time for the Syrian Government to move its troops and military equipment into civilian neighbourhoods and far out of the reach of a missile strike. 

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