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UN chief condemns new Syrian government attacks against civilians

Violence in Syria continues to escalate despite a UN-backed cease-fire agreement that is scheduled to take effect within days. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

The United Nations' secretary general issued a harshly worded condemnation of Syrian authorities on Friday, saying they were still attacking innocent civilians despite promises to stop using heavy weapons in population centers.

Earlier this week, the government of President Bashar al-Assad publicly accepted an official deadline of April 10 to begin withdrawing government troops from urban centers and flashpoints such as the battered city of Homs.

"The 10 April timeline to fulfill the Government’s implementation of its commitments, as endorsed by the Security Council, is not an excuse for continued killing," said the statement from the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.


The statement said Ban was concerned about reports of growing numbers of refugees arriving in neighboring countries to escape the fighting. It said he had been briefed on the situation by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu by phone on Thursday night.

Media reports Friday said thousands of refugees were crossing the border with Turkey. Reuters said 2,800 arrived in Turkish camps on Thursday as violence in bordering Idlib province worsened.

Ban's statement demanded that the Syrian government "cease all military actions against the Syrian people."

Reuters reported Friday that rebel activists and a Turkish official at the frontier said Syrian forces are pressing a military offensive and laying mines near the border with Turkey in an attempt to block a flow of refugees and supplies for insurgents.

Reuters said the Syrian army activity was visible across olive groves from the small Turkish border village of Bukulmez.

"The whole of northern Idlib has become another Baba Amr," Ahmed Sheikh, a law student and activist, told Reuters, referring to a district of the town of Homs devastated by shelling in the past two months.

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