Ban warns against military option for Syria


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Syria's warring sides and the countries backing them to turn away from the "bankrupt logic of a military victory" and work to find a peace settlement, according to a report to the Security Council.

Ban warned that the recent upsurge in fighting in northern Aleppo province risked derailing efforts by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura to convene a new round of peace talks on 25 February.

"Rarely is the international community and this council presented with as stark a choice as the one it now has before it," Ban said in the report.

On the one hand, world powers can press ahead with agreements on humanitarian aid, work to de-escalate violence, fight terrorism and resume negotiations, he said.

"On the other, the Syrian parties and their supporters can continue to pursue the bankrupt logic of a military victory", he added.

That option has "already led to the deaths of over 250,000 Syrians, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time and the creation of safe havens for terrorist organisations" such as Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, said Ban. The warning came as Turkey pushed for a ground operation in Syria with its allies and Saudi Arabia said it was ready to send forces as part of the US-led coalition.

The report was the first by the UN chief since the council adopted a resolution in December that laid out a roadmap to end the nearly five-year war in Syria.

At their meeting in Munich last week, the 17-nation group backing Syria's peace process agreed to work for a ceasefire, the lifting of starvation sieges and the resumption of talks.Ban renewed his call to the council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court to ensure those responsible for "appalling crimes" face justice. The council is expected to hear a report from De Mistura on Wednesday.    (AFP)

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