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At UN, US warns Iran not to target it over Syria strike

Published 04/02/2024, 05:47 PM
Updated 04/02/2024, 06:07 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alternate Representative of the United States for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations Robert A. Wood speaks to delegates during a United Nations Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security at U.N. headqu

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States warned Iran on Tuesday not to retaliate against it for an attack on Iran's embassy compound in Syria, telling the U.N. Security Council it had no prior warning of the strike that Tehran has blamed on Washington's ally Israel.

The strike on Monday - that Iran said killed two of its generals and five military advisers - marked one of the most significant attacks yet on Iranian interests in Syria, where Israel has stepped up a long-running campaign against Iran.

"We will not hesitate to defend our personnel and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of the situation - again, an attack in which we had no involvement or advanced knowledge - to resume their attacks on U.S. personnel," said deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood.

Attacks by Iran-backed proxies against U.S. troops based in Iraq and Syria stopped in February after Washington retaliated for the killing of three U.S. troops in Jordan with dozens of airstrikes on targets in Syria and Iraq linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and militias that it supports.

Iran told the 15-member Security Council that it reserves the right "to take a decisive response" to the attack, accusing Israel of violating the founding U.N. Charter, international law, and the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises.

"The United States is responsible for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime," said Iran's deputy U.N. Ambassador Zahra Ershadi, accusing the U.S. of trying to destabilize Syria and the region and calling it out for supporting Israel in its war with Palestinian militants Hamas.

Ershadi called on the Security Council to condemn the attack on Iran's diplomatic premises in Damascus. Wood said that Washington does not yet have confirmation of the status of the building that was struck in Damascus.

"Any confirmed attack on property that was in fact a diplomatic facility would be of concern to the United States," he said. "Diplomatic missions and their property, as well as official diplomatic residences must be protected, even and especially in times of armed conflict."

© Reuters. Alternate Representative of the United States for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations Robert A. Wood speaks to delegates during a United Nations Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., April 2, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier on Tuesday condemned the attack in Damascus, calling on "all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation," U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

"He cautions that any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East," said Dujarric.

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