Iran’s Takht Ravanchi says U.S. must end its illegal military presence in Syria

May 18, 2019 - 19:41

TEHRAN - Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations, has said that the United States must put an immediate end to its illegal military presence in parts of Syria.

In a statement addressed to the UN Security Council on Friday, Takht Ravanchi said that sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria should be respected by all.

Following is full text of the statement published by IRNA:

Along with other Guarantors of the Astana Format, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to support keeping Idlib as a de-escalation area.

This approach is based on a reality and a fundamental principle: there are a large number of civilians there whose lives must be saved.

At the same time, certain questions are in order: can and should this situation continue indefinitely? Should the Government allow these internationally designated terrorist groups continue their control over its territory? Should the international community allow such terrorist groups to take a large number of civilians as their hostage?

The answer is clear: the establishment of the Idlib de-escalation area was only a temporary measure with the exclusive objective of protecting civilians, not providing terrorist groups with a safe haven. It does not limit the right of the Syrian Government to fight Security Council designated terrorists, which of course have to be carried out in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. Therefore, both, defeating terrorists and releasing civilians are necessary.

Current situation in Idlib under which the most dangerous terrorist groups are allowed to use over two million civilians as human shields, continue their control over a large part of a sovereign State’s territory, and conduct their operations therefrom attacking both military and civilian targets beyond that area cannot and must not continue indefinitely.

Persistence of this situation would enable terrorists to kill more civilians. This is in contradiction with the objective of the Idlib de-escalation area’s creation. We should be vigilant enough not to confuse the protection of civilians with the protection of terrorists.

Continuation of current state of affairs in Idleb would further interrupt the restoration of Government’s control over all its territory and securing the safety and security of all its citizens, prevent the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, delay the country’s reconstruction, and hamper the political solution, all of which are inherently interlinked.

In conclusion, I would like to stress once again on the need for full respect by all to sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. As underlined in the Joint Statement of recent meeting of the Guarantors of the Astana Format in Nur-Sultan on 25-26 April 2019, no action, no matter by whom, should undermine these principles. 

In this context, the Guarantors of the Astana Format also rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism. Therefore, the US must put an immediate end to its illegal military presence in parts of Syria.

With this in mind, the Syrian Government must be assisted in the formation of the Constitutional Committee facilitated by the SRSG Pedersen, whose efforts enjoys our support. We encourage him to further strengthen its direct consultation with the Government of Syria.

As stated in the aforesaid Joint Statement, there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and the only option is to advance the Syrian-led and Syrian owned, UN-facilitated political process. Ultimately, the right to determine the future of Syria belongs exclusively to Syrians themselves. We must genuinely support the realization of this objective.

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