U.N. envoy, Russia say striking Syria would hurt chance for peace

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 06, 2013 8:32 AM
U.N. envoy, Russia say striking Syria would hurt chance for peace

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russia and the international peace envoy for Syria warned on Friday that U.S. military action against Syria would be illegal without U.N. Security Council approval and would undermine the chances for a political solution to the conflict.

Remarks by U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after a meeting with ministers from several other G20 states, added to pressure on President Barack Obama to refrain from ordering strikes.

"International law says that no country is allowed to take the law into their hands - they have to go through the Security Council," Brahimi told reporters in a joint appearance with Lavrov after the talks on the sidelines of a G20 summit.

Lavrov said that "a clear understanding is taking shape among many responsible states that the use of force, bypassing the Security Council, would essentially put an end to efforts to reach a political settlement and convene an international conference."

Russia and the United States announced in May that they would try to bring the Syrian government and opposition together at a peace conference known as Geneva 2, but Brahimi also said military action would hurt the chances of it ever happening.

"Geneva 2 now is in danger because of the events of August 21 and what may follow," Brahimi said of an alleged chemical weapons attack, which the United States blames on government forces, and the possibility of punitive military strikes.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mike Collett-White)