UNITED NATIONS - The convoy of Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, head of the UN observer mission in Syria, was attacked over the weekend and only the vehicles' armor prevented injuries, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
"Yesterday the convoy of General Gaye was attacked by armed attacks," Ban told reporters in New York, according to a transcript of his remarks issued by the UN press office. "Fortunately there were no injuries."
He gave no further details about the attack, though UN officials said on condition of anonymity that the convoy of five vehicles was hit with small arms fire in Talibisa, some 17 km from Homs. The officials said it was an opposition-held area.
Ban said that more than a dozen UN armored vehicles have been attacked and destroyed since the mission began deploying in Syria over three months ago.
"It's quite fortunate that nobody got injured by these attacks," Ban said. "It was only because of these armored vehicles which protected our mission."
Although the mission suspended most of its monitoring work last month due to the increasing violence in the 16-month conflict, it continues to carry out limited activities. The mission's 90-day mandate was renewed on July 20 for 30 days.
Ban said that he convened a crisis meeting of senior UN officials on Syria on Monday, adding that the group would continue to meet regularly to discuss the conflict.
The UN chief also reiterated his calls for both the government and opposition forces to stop fighting. He repeated his previous demand that the Syrian government pledge not to use chemical weapons under any circumstances.
He was responding to reports that Syria said it would only use chemical weapons if it was attacked by foreign powers.
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