Guterich: Any use of chemical weapons in Idlib will bring the situation out of control

BAGHDAD, The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterich warned that any use of chemical weapons in Idlib province, north-west of Syria, would lead to "the situation getting out of control."

International warnings are mounting from possible catastrophic ramifications of a military operation, according to media reports that Bashar al-Assad is preparing to launch it in Idlib, the last province controlled by the opposition, with hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

"He wants to make a clear appeal to all parties directly and indirectly, especially Iran, Russia and Turkey, to spare no effort to protect civilians," Gutierrez told reporters.

Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are the guarantors of the cease-fire agreement in Syria. Last year, in Astana, it reached an agreement to "reduce tensions" in Idlib and its environs, but the Syrian regime and Russia occasionally bombard it.

Twenty-nine people were killed and 58 wounded in attacks and raids on the Idlib since early September, according to civil defense sources.

"The situation is developing in Idlib, and there is much at stake. It is absolutely necessary to avoid a full-scale battle, because this would unleash a human nightmare that is nothing like the bloody Syrian conflict," Guterich said.

"Almost half of the 2.9 million people in Idlib went there to seek shelter from the conflict, and that number is about one million children, and they have nowhere to go," he said.

He stressed that "Idlib is the last area called (area of reducing tension) in Syria, and should not turn into a bloodbath."

"I understand that the current situation in Idlib is unsustainable and the existence of terrorist groups cannot be tolerated, but the fight against terrorism does not exempt warring parties from their fundamental obligations under international law."

"Any use of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable," Gutierrez warned. "Besides direct human casualties, this use will lead to the situation getting out of control."

He stressed the importance of "greater progress in the Geneva process (on a political solution), in particular the establishment of a constitutional commission as part of the overall political package".

He reiterated that "there is no military solution to the conflict, the solution must be political."

Source: National Iraqi News Agency