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UN's Ban Says Syrian Regime Has Lost Legitimacy

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that President Bashar al-Assad's regime has lost all legitimacy and warned about the danger of an all-out civil war in Syria.

Speaking at the start of a special UN General Assembly session on the Syrian crisis on June 7, Ban condemned a new massacre, reportedly by Assad's forces, in Hama Province as an "unspeakable barbarity."

Up to 80 civilians -- many of them children and women -- are said to have been killed in the incident.

Ban claimed United Nations monitors seeking to reach the site of the massacre were shot at with small arms, and he urged Assad to implement a peace plan sponsored by UN envoy Kofi Annan.

"Syria and the region can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point," Ban said. "The dangers of full-scale civil war are imminent and real. I therefore call on President Assad to urgently and unconditionally implement the six-point Annan plan."

Annan himself expressed "horror and condemnation" at the new massacre.

Activists said more than 20 children and 20 women were among those killed in the latest massacre, in the villages of Qubair and Maarzaf.

According to the activists, the villages came under shelling from security forces but maintained that much of the killing was done by pro-government militiamen.

Reports said many people were shot at close range and stabbed.

Worsening Violence

In a statement on official television, the government said "a terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims.”

The reports come less than two weeks after 108 people were massacred in the town of Houla in Homs Province.

Also on June 7, Annan said that the violence is getting worse as Syria becomes more polarized and more radicalized.

This, he says, worries Damascus's immediate neighbors who are concerned about the threat of a spillover.

Annan called on the international community to take its unity to a new level to push for a peaceful transition in Syria.

"As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming," he said. "We must also chart a clearer course for a peaceful transition if we are to help the government and the opposition as well as Syrian society to help resolve the crisis."

Meanwhile, international calls for Assad to step down are increasing.

Speaking in Istanbul on June 7, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Assad must leave power, calling the new massacre "simply unconscionable."

The White House condemned the reported new massacre in Syria as "outrageous targeted killings of civilians" and again called on other countries to halt support for Assad.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, also condemned the reported killings as "horrendous" and "unforgivable."

With reporting by Reuters, DPA, AFP, and AP
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