UNITED NATIONS - The 20-month conflict in Syria has reached "new and appalling heights of brutality and violence" as the government steps up its shelling and air strikes and rebels boost their attacks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
Ban and international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi addressed the 193-member UN General Assembly on the revolt against Syrian President Bashir Assad, which began as peaceful rallies calling for democracy but grew to an armed struggle after the military cracked down on protesters.
The fighting has killed about 40,000 people, making it the bloodiest of Arab uprisings that have ousted entrenched leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen since early last year.
"The government has intensified its campaigns to root out opposition strongholds and has increased shelling and air strikes," Ban said. "Opposition elements also have stepped up their attacks. I am horrified and saddened and condemn the seemingly daily massacres of civilians."