UN: Syria unrest could have global impact
Beirut - The "extremely dangerous" conflict in Syria could have global repercussions, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday, as fresh violence erupted and an al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Damascus.
The uprising that began a year ago has transformed into an armed insurgency that many fear is pushing the country toward civil war.
Because of Syria's close alliances with Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, there are deep concerns that the violence could spread beyond the country's borders, especially if other nations arm the rebels or send in their own troops.
"We do not know how events will unfold," Ban said during a speech in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. "But we do know that we all have a responsibility to work for a resolution of this profound and extremely dangerous crisis ... that has potentially massive repercussions for the region and the world."
Syrian activists reported shelling by government in forces in hotspots including the central province of Homs, and fighting between army defectors and soldiers in Damascus suburbs.
The rebel Free Syrian Army, which includes thousands of army defectors, is the most potent armed group challenging the regime, but it is outgunned and disorganised.
Still, few countries are openly considering arming the opposition, fearing that it would make the conflict worse.
The UN estimates that more than 8 000 people have been killed since the uprising began.
A string of large-scale bombings near government security buildings in the capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo have added a new element to the revolt.
US officials have suggested al-Qaeda militants may be joining the fray and exploit the chaos.
In a statement posted on Wednesday on a militant website, an Islamist group called the Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Damascus on Saturday.
The blasts, which targeted the air force intelligence building and the criminal security department, killed at least 27 people, the state-run news agency said.
The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of Wednesday's statement, which said the attacks were in retaliation for the Syrian regime's shelling of residential areas in opposition strongholds in Homs, Idlib, Hama and Daraa.