UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Russia and Turkey to "stabilise the situation" in the Syrian province of Idlib, rocked by intense fighting between pro-government and extremist-led forces.
"I am deeply concerned about the escalation of the fighting in Idlib and the situation is especially dangerous given the involvement of an increased number of actors. Yet again civilians are paying a horrific price," Guterres said on Tuesday, June 18th.
The UN chief's comments came ahead of an open UN Security Council (UNSC) session to discuss the situation, at the request of Belgium, Germany and Kuwait, who are non-permanent council members overseeing UN humanitarian operations in Syria.
He appealed to Russia and Turkey, as signatories of a September 2018 memorandum aimed at deescalating the conflict in Idlib, "to stabilise the situation without delay".
"There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. The solution must be political," he said, stressing the need to respect human rights and international humanitarian law "even in the fight against terrorism".
A diplomat said that the United States has asked that the political aspects of the conflict be addressed at the upcoming UNSC meeting, as well.
According to AFP, UN under-secretaries-general for political and for humanitarian affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo and Mark Lowcock, are expected to address the meeting.
In May, the council held several meetings on Syria and the situation in the rebel-held province of Idlib. The UN feared a humanitarian catastrophe if fighting in the northwest region continued.
In recent weeks, Idlib has been the target of nearly daily bombardments by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia.
The flare-up in violence in Idlib, home to around three million people, has left more than 400 people dead since late April and displaced 270,000 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria's war began in 2011 and has now claimed more than 370,000 lives. Several million more have been displaced.