U.N. council concerned by Turkey actions in Syria, says Venezuela

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council expressed concern during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday over Turkish shelling of Kurdish YPG militia targets in Syria and called on Turkey to abide by international law, the council president Venezuela said.

Syria wrote to the council and Russia requested the briefing by U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, according to Venezuela’s U.N. Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, president of the Security Council for February.

Turkish artillery returned fire into Syria for a fourth straight day on Tuesday, targeting the Kurdish YPG militia which Ankara says is being backed by Moscow. Ankara fears the YPG are trying to secure the last stretch of around 100 km (60 miles) along the Syrian border not already under its control.

“All members of the Security Council are agreed to ask for Turkey to comply with international law,” Ramirez Carreno told reporters after the briefing. When asked if all 15 members expressed concern about Turkey’s action, he said: “Yes.”Turkey on Monday accused Russia of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned the YPG it would face the “harshest reaction” if it tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.

Russian air support for the Syrian government offensive has transformed the balance of power in the 5-year-old war in the past three weeks.

“I called on our partners to work with Turkey to stop this unacceptable activity,” Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told reporters.

A meeting of international powers in Munich last week agreed to try to bring about a “cessation of hostilities” within a week in Syria.

When asked about this plan, Safronkov said: “It takes two to dance. A cessation of hostilities and the ceasefire itself, it’s something which should be done all together through cooperation. We are working on that.”

However, Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said “declaring a ceasefire would take much longer than a week” and asked: “Who would guarantee that the terrorists would respect the so called ceasefire?”

He also said French charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was to blame after a missile strike on one of its hospitals in the province of Idlib, west of Aleppo, on Monday that MSF said killed at least 11 people.

“They assume the full consequences of the act because they did not consult with the Syrian government and they did not operate with the Syrian government permission,” Ja’afari said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alan Crosby