UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon Wednesday called on world leaders to stop weapon transfers to Assad government forces and rebel groups fighting in Syria, and urged the international community to renew efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, which activists say has claimed more than 20 000 lives since last March.
“Whoever may be providing arms should stop, so that they [government and rebels] can begin a political dialogue.” he told a press conference Wednesday ahead of 67th session of the UN General Assembly.
The Secretary General expects next week’s high level General Assembly meetings to focus on the deteriorating Syrian situation. He told reporters he would again urge countries with influence over the Assad government and rebel factions to push for an unconditional end to the violence.
“I’m going to have bilateral meetings with more than 120 leaders” he said. “The deteriorating situation in Syria will be foremost in our minds.”
The UN chief says the international community had a responsibility to promote a diplomatic and peaceful solution in Syria, even if rebels and government officials seemed determined to resolve the ongoing 18 month crisis through military action.
The U.S. Treasury Department Wednesday said it believed Tehran was using Iranian airlines to smuggle weapons to the Assad regime.
Moscow and Washington have also accused each other of fueling the conflict with weapons.
A longtime Syrian ally, Russia contends it continues to honor existing defense contracts with the Assad government but that it does not provide Damascus with the type of weapons used to suppress protests or combat insurgents.
American officials say they only provide Syrian opposition groups with financial aid, non-lethal assistance and communication equipment.
In late July, the Treasury Department granted the Syrian Support Group, a Washington DC based pro-rebel lobbying group, a license to provide the Free Syrian Army with direct financial assistance.