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UN chief says Syria violations 'unacceptable'

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, has blamed the government of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, for much of the "unacceptable levels of violence and abuses" occurring every day in the 14-month-long crisis in Syria.

In a report to the UN Security Council, issued on Friday, Ban cited the government's continued use of heavy weapons, reports of shelling and "a stepped-up security crackdown by the authorities that has led to massive violations of human rights by government forces and pro-government militias".

Ban, who is scheduled to brief the council on Wednesday, said there had only been "small progress" on implementing the six-point joint UN-Arab League plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

The UN chief called on the government to keep its pledge to immediately stop the violence, pull heavy weapons and troops out of populated areas, allow humanitarian workers to help civilians in need and end human rights abuses.

Ban also called on all elements of the opposition to stop the violence and respect human rights.

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