UNITED NATIONS - The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war in which the government is attempting to recapture large swathes of urban territory it has lost to the opposition, the UN peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.

"Yes, I think we can say that," UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said in an interview with Reuters and one other reporter when asked if the Syrian crisis could now be characterized as a civil war.

"Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory in several cities to the opposition and wants to retake control of these areas," he said.

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