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Global condemnation pours in over terrorist Israeli attack on Iranian consulate

Representatives attend a UN Security Council emergency meeting on Israeli strike on Iran's Syria consulate at the UN headquarters in New York, on April 2, 2024. The United Nations on Tuesday voiced its condemnation following the Israeli strike. (UN photo)

Global condemnation of Israel’s attack on Iran's consulate in Syria surges as the UN Security Council has held an emergency meeting over the deadly strike.

The UNSC session was held at the request of Russia on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the deadly Israeli aggression on the Consular Section of the Iranian Embassy in the Mezzeh neighborhood in Damascus on April 1.

Israeli warplanes bombed the diplomatic building, killing seven military advisors of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, and his deputy General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi were among the martyrs of the terrorist attack.

‘Inviolability of diplomatic premises’

Khaled Khiari, assistant secretary general for the Middle East at the UN, said in his address that the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states must be respected under international law.

“The rules-based international order is essential for international peace and security, which this Council is mandated to maintain,” Khiari said.

“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,” he added.

Khiari appealed to the Council to continue to actively engage all concerned parties to prevent further escalation, reiterating UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ calls on all concerned parties to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation.

Russia: Israel attack designed to further fuel conflict

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, condemned Israel’s incessant missile and bomb attacks targeting Syria.

“On 1 April, the Israeli air forces struck Iran’s consulate in Damascus, leveling the building to the ground.  Any attack on diplomatic and consular premises violates the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Convention,” Nebenzia said.

Drawing particular attention to the fact that it was not the first attack carried out by Israel in the densely-populated area of Damascus, he said, “In the past few months alone, Israeli aircraft have attacked the international airports in Damascus and Aleppo — the main gateways for the entry of humanitarian aid into Syria — several times.”

Denouncing the ongoing raids on the sovereign territory of Syria, Nebenzia said such aggressive actions are designed to further fuel the conflict and might have extremely dangerous consequences for the entire region. 

Calling on the international community to condemn Israel’s reckless actions, he said, “If we don’t reaffirm this position of solidarity, next time, the diplomatic mission by any State can be targeted by an air raid.”

China: Israel's attack breach of sovereignty of both Syria, Iran

The Chinese representative denounced Israel’s airstrikes on the Iranian diplomatic premises in Syria as “a grave violation of the UN Charter and international law” and “a breach of the sovereignty of both Syria and Iran.”

The envoy stressed that in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the universally recognized basic norms governing international relations, the safety and security of diplomatic missions is inviolable.

“The red line of international law and the basic norms of international relations has been breached time and again,” he said, adding that such a situation must stop immediately.

Recalling that 25 years ago, China’s Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was bombed by a United States-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrike, which resulted in personnel casualties and damage to the Embassy, the envoy offered sympathy and condolences to the government of Iran and its people over the deadly aggression.

Cowardly terrorist attack

At the beginning of the emergency meeting, Iran's Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi delivered a strongly-worded statement before the Security Council condemning the Israeli regime's targeting of Iranian diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns these horrific crimes and cowardly terrorist attacks. The Israeli regime committed a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, international law, and the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Ershadi said.

“The crime committed by the Israeli regime goes beyond mere criminality; it represents a profound affront to the shared principle of the international community, namely, the inviolability of representatives and diplomatic and consular premises,” she added.

Ershadi called on the Security Council to vehemently condemn the Israeli regime’s terrorist attack as the grave repercussions of its reprehensible act could escalate tensions in the region and potentially spark further conflict involving other nations.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has exercised considerable restraint, but it is imperative to acknowledge that there are limits to such forbearance,” Ershadi said.

“The occupying regime must bear full responsibility for its consequences. Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right under international law and the United Nations Charter to take a decisive response to such reprehensible acts.”

Underlining that the Security Council must promptly fulfill its duty in response to Israel's reckless defiance, Ershadi said it is high time for the 15-member UN body to shoulder its responsibility and address the real threat to international peace and security.

Algeria: Israeli strike cannot be justified or tolerated

The representative of Algeria said such a grave breach of international obligation by the Israeli occupation cannot be justified or tolerated, warning that this could lead to escalating tensions and wider regional consequences.

The envoy said the timing of these attacks — in the face of international pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza through Council resolution 2728 (2024) — indicates a deliberate disregard for the international community’s call for a cessation of hostilities.

“The Council must respond firmly and decisively to these threats to fundamental principles of State sovereignty, diplomatic sanctity and respect for territorial integrity,” he said.

“The integrity of our international order hangs in the balance,” he added, stressing that the choice is either to uphold the principle of the UN Charter or risk plunging into chaos and regional spillover.

Switzerland: Diplomatic buildings must not be targeted

The Swiss representative at the UN condemned the airstrike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus, stating that the spiral of escalation must stop immediately. 

“All channels of communication must be used to avoid any misunderstandings as a single miscalculation can have disastrous consequences,” he said.

“A further deterioration in the situation must be avoided, and any use of force must strictly comply with international law,” he added. “Given the current climate, the proper conduct of diplomatic activity is of utmost importance. diplomatic buildings must not be targeted.”

S Korea warns of spillover of tension to other regional countries 

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that, amid the high tensions and the lack of implementation of resolution 2728 (2024), seeing another incident in a neighboring country is “very concerning.”

He warned that such incidents have the potential to spill over into Lebanon. 

“History tells us that an unexpected event could expand into irrecoverable tragedies,” the envoy cautioned, expressing concern that additional violent flashpoints could escalate into new tragedies in the region.

Japan urges restraint 

The representative of Japan said her country is monitoring with deep concern the situation following the reported airstrikes against Iranian diplomatic premises in Damascus.

“The current volatile situation in the Middle East, in which any additional conflicts could lead to a wider escalation and confrontation, is worrisome,” she said.

The Japanese envoy called on all relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint and not to engage in any further destabilizing actions.

Ecuador calls respect for diplomatic missions 

The representative of Ecuador condemned all attacks carried out against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.

Rejecting such acts of violence, regardless of origin, he said that the attack on the Iranian diplomatic premises runs counter to principles enshrined in international law, has cost the lives of civilians and has destroyed civilian infrastructure.

“Nothing justifies these types of attacks,” he said, calling on all states to respect the inviolability of diplomatic and consular offices.  These acts must be duly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice, he added.

US, UK, France stop short of condemning Israeli attack

The US representative at the UN declined to condemn the Israeli aggression and claimed that his country had no involvement in the regime’s strike in Syria, nor did it know about the assault.

“Iran and its proxy and partner groups need to avoid escalating tensions in the region,” he said, apparently shifting the blame without condemning the attack. 

“Washington, D.C., does not have confirmation of the status of the building that was struck in Damascus,” he added. “Any confirmed attack on a diplomatic facility would be of concern to the United States.” 

The representative of the United Kingdom underlined the importance of respect for the inviolability of diplomatic premises and protection of diplomatic and consular staff for the proper conduct of diplomatic relations. 

The UK envoy said Iran must cease its support for resistance groups in the region and use its influence to prevent their attacks.

The French representative also said the strikes in Damascus have taken place in the context of heightened tensions in Syria and the region. 

The envoy said the international community must do everything possible to ease tensions and called on all actors to show restraint and prevent regional spillover.

Taking the floor a second time, the representative of the Russian Federation criticized the Western troika in the Council for cynicism and double standards. 

“The representative of France said everything except for a single word of condemnation for yet another violation of international law by Israel,” Nebenzia said.

“The United States always possesses information on any topic firsthand thanks to its intelligence capabilities. But surprisingly, Washington, D.C., has no confirmation regarding the attack against the consulate of Iran,” he added. “The United Kingdom and the United States almost directly accused Iran and Syria for the Israeli strikes on the Iranian consulate.”

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