UN Secretary-General on Syria: 'The Cold War is back'

UN chief Antonio Guterres | File AP

He contacted the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the SC to reiterate deep concern about the risks of the impasse and stressed the need to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control.

In both statements, the United Nations chief underlined his support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - the body which investigates allegations of such attacks.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia has warned the U.S. against military action on Syria.

Any countries that carry out a strike on Syria over the use of chemical weapons could defend the action under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defense against armed attack, diplomats said. "This is exactly the risk we face today - that things spiral out of control", said the United Nations chief.

He noted that Security Council resolution 2401 that demands a cease-fire across Syria to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

Rescuers and medics in the town of Douma say more than 40 people died after the alleged poison gas attack in the last rebel-held pocket of the one-time opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta.

"Syria indeed today represents the most serious threat to global peace and security", Guterres said.

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He warned that the crisis over Syria is a return to the Cold War, and increasing tensions are leading to a military escalation.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies using chemical weapons against civilians.

The document aims to find common ground in support of an investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). I reiterate: "there is no military solution to the conflict", he said.

The Council rejected a third text - also proposed by Russian Federation - which concerned the work of the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.

He also said the Middle East region is facing "a true Gordian knot - different fault lines crossing each other and creating a highly volatile situation with risks of escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see with profound regional and global ramifications".

He compared this divide to others - such as the Cold War and the Palestinian-Israeli divide. "It is important to note that apparent religious divides are normally the result of political or geo-strategic manipulations".

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