United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged an end to the ongoing violence in Syria, where as many as two million people are now affected by the civil war.
At the UN headquarters in New York, Ban described the situation as 'tragic and intolerable,' underlining that continued fighting is not the answer. "Further militarization of this conflict will only perpetuate the devastation and prolong the suffering. A sectarian civil war would also gravely imperil Syria's neighbors," he said.
Ban recently undertook visits to China, south-eastern Europe and London, where he met with the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, who has been working to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. But Ban underscored that Annan's efforts require the international community's united and concrete support to succeed.
Furthermore, Ban alleged that the Syrian government is escalating its "brutal crackdown" against the opposition by attacking heavily populated areas with fighter aircraft and helicopters, but he noted that armed opposition groups have also stepped up their attacks.
"Each day, as the violence spirals, more Syrians are killed, injured, tortured or forced to flee their homes or their country," he said, adding: "I am extremely concerned by the impact of shelling and use of other heavy weapons on civilians in Aleppo and other locations in Syria."
Ban's comments came just hours after the acting head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, told reporters in the Syrian capital, Damascus, that he witnessed heavy shelling in the city of Homs during a visit to the area on Sunday, and voiced concern about ongoing fighting in Aleppo.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began nearly 1.5 year ago. The opposition believes the number of deaths has already surpassed 17,000.