U.N. chief calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’ in northeastern Syria

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called Monday for the “immediate de-escalation” of the situation in northeastern Syria, as the humanitarian situation rapidly worsens with Turkey’s military pushing farther into the area, Voice of America reported.

“The secretary-general is gravely concerned over the military developments in northeast Syria, which have already reportedly resulted in many civilian casualties and the displacement of at least 160,000 civilians,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “The secretary-general calls for the immediate de-escalation and urges all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means.”

Turkey began a military incursion into northeastern Syria on Wednesday, targeting the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara considers as terrorists aligned with separatists inside Turkey. Western countries view the SDF as a key ally in the fight against the self-described Islamic State terror group.

While Guterres did not call for the offensive to end, he urged “maximum restraint” and said any military operation must fully respect international law, including the U.N. Charter and international humanitarian law, as well as the protection of civilians.

The U.N. chief also called for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers, as aid agencies said access was becoming more difficult and dangerous.

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