"Syria today is the most serious threat, and there is no military solution to the conflict," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Russia and the US trade accusations over suspected chemical attack in Syria.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says "the Cold War is back with a vengeance but with a difference." (Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said the Middle East is "in chaos", warning it has become a threat to international peace and security and Syria "represents the most serious threat."

"Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation," Guterres told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called by Russia.

TRT World's Reagan Des Vignes reports.

He said the highly volatile situation risks "escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see with profound regional and global ramifications."

Guterres said "the Cold War is back with a vengeance but with a difference" because safeguards that managed the risk of escalation in the past "no longer seem to be present."

He cited the Palestinian-Israeli divide, the Sunni-Shia divide "evident from the Gulf to the Mediterranean" and other divisive factors reflected in a multiplicity of conflicts.

But Guterres said Syria today is the most serious, and "there is no military solution to the conflict."

Guterres said "the Cold War is back with a vengeance but with a difference" because safeguards that managed the risk of escalation in the past "no longer seem to be present."

He cited the Palestinian-Israeli divide, the Sunni-Shia divide "evident from the Gulf to the Mediterranean" and other divisive factors reflected in a multiplicity of conflicts.

But Guterres said Syria today is the most serious, and "there is no military solution to the conflict."

US says Assad can't be allowed to use chemical weapons

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Washington estimates that Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's forces have used chemical weapons at least 50 times during the seven-year-long conflict.

"Our president has not yet made a decision about possible action in Syria.  But should the United States and our allies decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree," Haley told the UN Security Council.

"All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalise the use of chemical weapons," Haley said.

During the meeting, Britain's permanent representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce said that Russian actions regarding Syria are "the latest in a pernicious chronology of disregard for international law" by Moscow.

Russia warns Western countries

During the meeting, Russia accused the West of having the sole aim in Syria of overthrowing the regime as it asked US, French and British leaders to refrain from military action.  

"We continue to observe dangerous military preparations for an illegal act of force against a sovereign state," Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council.

Nebenzia said the United States' "consumeristic" approach to the UNSC and repeated "reckless conduct in encroachment of sovereign states and international law" was "unworthy" of its membership to the international organisation.

He referred to Washington's latest statements on Syria as well as to US interventions in recent years in both Iraq and Libya.

'Point of no return'

France warned that Syria's regime had reached a "point of no return" by using chemical weapons and vowed to confront the "intolerable threat" of such attacks to global security.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre told the Security Council meeting that world powers must respond to the threat of repeated use of toxic gas as a weapon in Syria's war.

By "deciding once again to use chemical weapons" in the rebel-held town of Douma, "the regime has reached a point of no-return," Delattre said.

Russia and the Syrian regime have denied that a chemical attack took place and said video footage and photographs were staged by Assad's opponents on the orders of Britain

Source: TRTWorld and agencies