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Ban Ki-moon warns of impacts of punitive measures on Syria

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday, regarding the ongoing debates over a possible military intervention in Syria, that "We must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict." Holding a press conference on the Syrian crisis, particularly on the chemical weapons investigation by UN inspectors team, Ban stated that he briefed last Friday the five permanent members (P-5) of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the status of the investigation and also the Council’s ten non-permanent members earlier on Tuesday. Ban stressed that the UN team led by Dr. Ake Sellstrom has been working urgently to establish the facts regarding the nature and extent of any use of chemical weapons, adding that "As the first probe of allegations of the use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century, the Mission’s success is in everyone’s interest." UN Chief called for the UN mission to be given every opportunity to complete its task. "The United Nations investigation is uniquely placed to independently establish the facts in an objective and impartial manner. Its work will be conducted strictly according to internationally recognized standards." He announced that all biomedical and environmental samples will have arrived at the designated laboratories by Wednesday. Highlighting the importance of not jeopardizing the scientific timelines required for accurate analysis, Ban said "As soon as the mission has arrived at findings on the Ghouta incident, I will promptly report the results to Member States and to the Security Council." Besides, Ban noted that the UN inspectors team, as soon as it can, will return to Syria to complete its investigation and to prepare its final report. "If confirmed, any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be a serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime," he argued. He urged for any perpetrators of the said chemical weapons attack to be brought to justice without any impunity. Reminding the primary responsibility of the UNSC as protection of the international peace and security, Ban called for its members to unite and to develop an appropriate response, should the allegations of use prove to be true. "The Security Council has a duty to move beyond the current stalemate and show leadership," he said. Regarding the argument for international action to prevent future uses of chemical weapons, "At the same time, we must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict," he further said. Arguing that the turmoil in Syria and across the region serves nobody, Ban appealed for renewed efforts by regional and international actors to convene the Geneva conference as soon as possible. He also urged for a political settlement in Syria avoiding further militarization of the conflict to put an end to the atrocities the Syrian people continue to suffer. Touching on the G20 summit due in St. Petersburg, he said he would engage with world leaders on this "tragedy", including humanitarian assistance for the more than 2 million refugees and 4.2 million Syrians who have been displaced internally. Referring to US President Barack Obama’s latest statements on Syria, Ban said he appreciated Obama's efforts to have his future course of action based on the broad opinions of American people, particularly the Congress, hoping that the process will have a good result.

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