Security Council clearance needed before Syria military strike: UN envoy

AFP , Wednesday 28 Aug 2013

UN envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi reminds that international law stipulates military action can only be taken after a decision by the Security Council

The UN Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks on developments related to Syria during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 (Photo: AP)

The UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria said Wednesday that international military action in the country cannot go ahead without approval by the UN Security Council.

"I think international law is clear on this. International law says that military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council," Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Geneva.

Brahimi, whose comments came as the United States and its allies were building their case for military action against the Syrian regime over alleged chemical weapons attacks, also said it was clear that some kind of substance had been used in the August 21 assault, killing hundreds.

Speaking of the suspected attack, he said: "It does seem some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people."

"Hundreds. Definitely more than 100, some people say 300, some people say 600, maybe 1,000, maybe more than 1,000 people," he said, adding: "In my mind, there is a before August 21 and there is an after August 21."

But while he acknowledged that the attack was "of course unacceptable (and) outrageous," he stressed that: "How to react is another issue."

Brahimi, who has been working hard to pave the way for an ever more elusive peace conference aimed at ending the fighting, said it was unclear whether an international military strike would "increase the interest in reaching a political solution or do the opposite."

"I personally continue to believe that there is no military solution in Syria... The quicker we move towards a political solution the better," he added.

The grounds for military action was set out by US Vice President Joe Biden, who for the first time said last week's suspected chemical attack could only have been perpetrated by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Britain has joined the United States in saying that regime forces were behind the strikes, and Prime Minister David Cameron said that London would submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Wednesday "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad" and authorising measures to protect civilians from the Syrian leader's regime.

Brahimi refused to lend his voice to the assertion that Assad's regime was responsible for the attack.

However, he said: "If they are responsible for what happened on August 21, ... I don't think you will find many people who think this is the first outrageous thing it (the regime) has done."

More than 100,000 people have died in the conflict since the revolt against Assad erupted in March 2011, according to the UN, and over 1.9 million Syrians have fled their homeland, mostly to neighbouring Arab states and Turkey.

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