UN chief: Syrian regime 'imminent threat' to civilians
Following a week-long Middle East trip, Ban Ki-moon says ISIL in Syria is a consequence, not the cause, of the conflict.

Syrian civilians are in imminent threat from the regime of Bashar al-Assad, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday.

Clearly, Syrian civilians are suffering from ISIL attacks, Ban said, but Assad’s forces are also a threat.

"In addition to the barbarity of ISIL, the Syrian government continues to indiscriminately attack populated areas, even using barrel bombs," Ban told a press conference in New York following his week-long trip to the Middle East.

He said that the ISIL "phenomenon" in Syria was a consequence, not the cause, of the conflict.

Syria has been gripped by almost constant fighting since the regime responded to anti-government protests in March 2011 with a violent crackdown, sparking a conflict which has spiraled into a civil war.

"ISIL will continue to threaten Syria unless the deep political drivers of the conflict are resolved through a credible and comprehensive process," the U.N. chief said.

Militants with ISIL have captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, on which it has declared what it calls a cross-border Islamic caliphate.

ISIL fighters have besieged the Syrian Kurdish-populated town of Kobani for more than four weeks, forcing more than 160,000 Kurdish refugees to flee to Turkey.

Ban cited his visit to the war-scarred Gaza Strip and urged the international community to spare no effort to rebuild Gaza and to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"The international community has an obligation to press for peace and I want to once again commend the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry," he said.

The U.S.-brokered direct Palestinian-Israeli talks came to a halt in April after Israel failed to honor an earlier promise to release a number of Palestinian prisoners.

"The Gaza situation is a symptom of a larger problem – the stalemate in the Middle East peace process," the U.N. chief said, adding that he believes the two-state solution is the only way to end the cycle of war.

The two-state solution refers to a proposed solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that calls for "two states for two peoples,” and envisages an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. The boundaries between the two states, however, are still subject to dispute and negotiation.

Palestinian and Arab leaders have insisted on any future state existing within the "1967 borders" that existed before the 1967 Middle East war - but that has not been accepted by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the border condition is "indefensible" and that it would leave major Israeli population centers in Palestinian territory.

Last Modified: 2014-10-17 09:52:55
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