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UN Chief's Report, Escalating Violence Show Situation Worsening In Syria

A video grab allegedly shows people running for cover as a roadside bomb explodes in front of a UN observers convoy in Syria earlier this month.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has released a report on Syria to the UN Security Council that painted a grim picture at a time when news coming from the Middle Eastern country supported his sobering portrayal.

Ban said in his report on May 25 that "unacceptable levels of violence and abuses" are happening daily in Syria despite the cease-fire the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan worked out in April and the deployment of some 270 UN observers to Syria since then.

Ban said, "The overall situation in Syria remains extremely serious and there has been only small progress on some issues."

He added that the UN mission in Syria has seen "considerable physical destruction" in the country in the few weeks since its deployment.

Ban's report claimed forces opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government now controlled "significant" parts of some cities.

Ban noted new developments that complicate efforts to stabilize Syria. He said recent bombings, which have killed scores of people suggest "established terrorist groups" are active the country.

Ban has previously mentioned an Al-Qaeda presence in Syria and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said several times that his forces are fighting terrorists.

'Russian Arms Shipment'

Ban called on states not to supply arms to the Syrian government or the opposition. But even as Ban's appeal was made public the Al Arabiya television channel reported a Russian cargo ship loaded with weapons was en route to Syria.

Reports identified the vessel as the "Professor Katsman," owned by a Maltese firm, which itself is owned by a Cypriot company that is owned by a Russian firm. Damascus has been among the biggest customers for Russian arms for a number of years.

Also on May 25, Kofi Annan was reportedly finalizing plans to return to Syria for talks aimed at revitalizing the cease-fire and peace process he brokered last month.

Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the exact dates of Annan's Damascus trip have not yet been determined.

Dozens Of Deaths Reported

Inside Syria, activists said more than 70 people, including 13 children, were killed in attacks across the country on May 25.

The biggest casualties came in Syria's central Homs Province where some 50 people were reported killed.

Activist Ahmad Kassem said Syrian government forces were using tanks and artillery to shell the town of Houla.

Army tanks were reportedly deployed in Syria's second largest city Aleppo, after tens of thousands of people demonstrated against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Activists said four of the people killed on May 25 died in Aleppo.

According to UN estimates, more than 9,000 people have died since the antigovernment uprising began in the spring of 2011.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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