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'Dirty War' Must End, Says Special Adviser for Syria

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - A still image taken from a video posted to a social media website on April 4, 2017, shows people lying on the ground, said to be in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in rebel-held Idlib, Syria.

In the wake of the toxic chemical attack on civilians, a special adviser for Syria is urging the U.S., Russia and other countries of influence to bring "this dirty war" to an end.

Jan Egeland, special adviser to the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, said Thursday that a war where children suffocate to death because of toxic chemicals is a "very, very dirty war." A chemical attack Tuesday in Idlib Province reportedly killed 86 people, including 30 children.

Egeland says he is a humanitarian and does not believe in military solutions, so he is not in favor of reported calls for military action by the U.S. against Syria. He says the only solution to the war, which has entered its seventh year, is a negotiated political settlement.

FILE - Jan Egeland, special adviser to the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 1, 2016.
FILE - Jan Egeland, special adviser to the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 1, 2016.

"What I do welcome is a renewed interest from the United States to focus on the carnage in Syria," he said. "We need the co-chairs, which are Russia and the United States, to be equally seized with the situation of the Syrian civilians. When there was such focusing last year, we had progress."

At the same time, Egeland says, all the other actors on the ground must work for peace and not fuel the flames of war.

He calls the humanitarian situation in Syria deplorable. He says nearly 5 million people in so-called hard-to-reach and besieged areas are suffering from lack of food, medicine and other essential relief.

There are no natural disasters preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the victims of this war-torn country, he adds.

"This is a story of armed men supported by powerful men outside that sabotage, block, deny humanitarian access while the civilian population is attacked, gassed and bombed," he said.

Egeland says the U.N. has sought permission to provide humanitarian aid for one million people in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in April and May, adding that only one-third of that request has been approved in full by the government of Bashar al-Assad.

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