independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

UN condemns Syrian attack on Turkey

Turkish Prime Ministerr Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted his country does not want to go to war with Syria (AP)

The UN Security Council has overcome deep divisions to unanimously approve a statement condemning Syria's shelling of a Turkish town that killed five women and children "in the strongest terms".

Council members managed to bridge differences between the strong statement demanded by the United States and its Western supporters and backed by their Nato ally Turkey, and a weaker text pushed by Russia, Syria's most important ally.

In the press statement, which needed approval from all 15 council members, the UN's most powerful body said the incident "highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace and stability".

It also extended condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Turkey.

The council demanded an immediate end to such violations of international law and called on the Syrian government "to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours".

Earlier on Thursday, Syria's UN envoy said his government is not seeking any escalation of violence with Turkey and wants to maintain good neighbourly relations.

Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the government has not apologised for the shelling from Syria because it is waiting for the outcome of an investigation into the source of the firing.

He read reporters a letter he delivered to the Security Council that sent Syria's "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims "and to the friendly and brotherly people of Turkey". It urged Turkey and its other neighbours to "act wisely, rationally and responsibly" and to prevent cross-border infiltration of "terrorists and insurgents" and the smuggling of arms.

During Thursday's negotiations on the text when the outcome was still in doubt, US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters: "We think it's very important that the council speak clearly and swiftly to condemn this shelling. This sort of cross-border military activity is very destabilising and must be stopped."

The border violence has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria's civil war, dragging Syria's neighbours deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011.

Press Association

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