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At UN, airstrike on Iranians denounced

By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-03 11:01

A satellite image shows the Iranian embassy and consulate following a suspected Israeli strike, in Damascus, Syria April 2, 2024 in this handout image. [Photo/Agencies]

China's ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday strongly condemned a deadly airstrike blamed on Israel that demolished an Iranian consulate in Syria.

"This attack seriously violated the United Nations Charter and international law, violated both Syria's and Iran's sovereignty, and was extremely vile in nature. China strongly condemns it," Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told a UN Security Council emergency meeting on the strike on the Iranian consulate.

The suspected Israeli airstrike targeted a building within the compound of the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari reported to the Security Council that the attack killed at least five Iranian staff, including top military advisers, with the total death toll rising to 13, including six Syrians.

Geng said he shared empathy with Iranians as he recalled the NATO bombing of the former Chinese embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, killing three Chinese journalists.

"We share the grief of the Iranian government and people at this time and express our deep sympathy and condolences to them," he said.

"According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an international treaty ensuring diplomats can perform their duties without interference from the host country's laws, and the universally recognized basic norms of international relations, the security of diplomatic institutions is inviolable," Geng said.

Fears of escalating regional tensions have arisen following the airstrike.

"The situation in the Middle East is already precarious," said Geng.

He said Israel frequently carries out cross-border strikes against targets in Syria and Lebanon, "seriously violating the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned and exacerbating tensions in the entire region".

He expressed his concern that such "provocative actions may trigger greater turmoil and endanger the security of the entire region and must be stopped immediately".

Geng said China calls on all parties, "especially countries with important influence on Israel", to play a constructive role and make practical efforts to promote an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, cool down the situation in the Middle East at an early date, and restore peace and stability.

"The red lines of the basic norms of international law and international relations have been breached again and again, and the bottom line of human moral conscience has been penetrated time and time again," the ambassador said, calling for an immediate stop to such "situation and tragedy".

Geng reiterated Resolution 2728 passed by the Security Council last week calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and called on the international community to work together to ensure the implementation of the resolution.

"Do not let the entire Ramadan of Muslim faithful be spent amidst the sound of gunfire," said Geng.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday condemned the attack and called on "all parties to respect all of their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, as applicable".

Guterres said 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, in Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East," according to his spokesperson.

Iran on Tuesday vowed to take revenge for the attack.

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