- Ban says Arab League plans to send observers back to Syria
- He says the failed resolution last week encouraged the assault on Homs
- The secretary-general condemns the "appalling brutality" of the bombardment
- "The deteriorating situation in Syria will not leave the rest of the region untouched"
The Syrian assault on the city of Homs is "a grim harbinger of worse to come" without united pressure on the government in Damascus, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.
"At this moment of such grave consequence, it is more urgent than ever to find common ground," Ban told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "We have heard too many broken promises, even within last 24 hours. I am convinced that the deteriorating situation in Syria will not leave the rest of the region untouched."
Ban said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby plans to send a renewed Arab League monitoring mission back into Syria after it was suspended when the violence escalated in late January. He said Elaraby asked for U.N. help and suggested beefing up the mission with U.N. observers -- a suggestion Ban said he raised in the Security Council and will discuss further "in the coming days."
Ban spoke four days after Russia and China vetoed a proposed Security Council resolution that condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's 11-month-old attempt to crush opposition groups and that demanded an end to attacks on peaceful protesters. He said the council's failure to speak with one voice "has encouraged the Syrian government to step up its war on its own people."
"I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighborhoods, is a grim harbinger of worse to come," he said.