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‘Now is the time for maximum restraint,' says UN Secretary-General Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Israel and Iran should attempt to de-escalate violence after dueling missile strikes in recent days.

Iran fired about 350 rockets toward Israel on Saturday evening, raising concerns over a regional war after Israel attacked Iranian military leaders in Syria last week.

“Now is the time for maximum restraint,” Guterres said in an emergency U.N. meeting held at the request of the Israeli delegation on Sunday.

The large-scale attack by Iran is a major escalation of the conflict between the two countries, with Iran calling on the assistance of its proxy militias in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon against Israel.

“The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” Guterres said. “It’s time to step back from the brink. It is vital to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East.”

Some Israeli leaders have vowed retaliation but have avoided calls for all-out war against Iran. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog explicitly said Sunday that his country is “not seeking war” with Iran but that the missile barrage “has to be met accordingly.”

President Biden has reportedly pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to not pursue a larger conflict with Iran.

The comments from Guterres follow his ardent support of a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. The U.N. has been the loudest advocate for a pause in fighting, citing rampant civilian deaths and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

He reaffirmed that commitment Sunday.

“Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” he said of the Israel-Hamas war.

Guterres added that all U.N. member states must work toward de-escalation, calling it a “shared responsibility.”

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