Even before Hamas’ horrific terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7th, Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen warned the Security Council that increased military activity in Syria had the potential to spill over into neighboring countries. Unfortunately, his words proved prescient, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“Terrorist groups, some backed by the Syrian regime and Iran, are threatening to expand the conflict beyond Gaza by using Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks against Israel. We have also seen attacks on U.S. forces in Syria, whose mission has been – and continues to be – to defeat Da’esh. The Syrian regime has allowed Iran and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, to use its international airports for military purposes,” she said.
“We call on the [Syrian] regime to curb the activities of Iran-backed militias in Syria, stop the flow of foreign arms and fighters through its territory, and cease escalatory actions in the Golan Heights,” warned Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield:
“The United States has warned all actors not to take advantage of the situation in Gaza to widen or deepen the conflict. And we have made clear that we will respond to attacks on our own personnel and facilities in Syria or against U.S. interests and, where appropriate, exercise our right to self-defense forcefully, proportionately, and in a manner that minimizes civilian harm.”
The protection of civilians remains of primary concern, stressed Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “We are outraged by the relentless attacks carried out by the Assad regime, and by Russian attacks in northern Syria, which have killed scores of civilians, displaced over 100,000 people, and destroyed vital infrastructure.”
It is also critical to address the “dire humanitarian situation,” stressed Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. The United States welcomes the continued flow of UN convoys across the Türkiye-Syria border, which provides lifesaving aid to millions in need.
“But we are mindful that the UN’s arrangement with the regime regarding the Bab al-Salam and al-Rai crossings could lapse as soon as November 13th. There is no reason why this arrangement should not be renewed, and we urge the Assad regime to do so. We must all urge the regime to do so,” she said.
The Security Council and all Member States must continue to stand with the Syrian people in their time of need.