NEW YORK, June 20 U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon urged the Security Council on Friday to impose an arms
embargo on Syria, describing foreign powers and groups as
"irresponsible" for giving military support to the warring
parties in the three-year conflict.
In a speech on Syria at the Asia Society in New York, Ban
also said: "I welcome recent contacts between Iran and Saudi
Arabia and hope that they will build confidence and reverse a
destructive competition in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere."
Ban expressed anger and disappointment that the
international community has been unable to find a way to end the
civil war that has killed some 150,000 people, displaced half
the country's 22 million population and forcing 2.8 million to
"Syria today is increasingly a failed state," he said. "The
Syrian conflict has now spread visibly and devastatingly to
Iraq, with flows of arms and fighters across a porous border."
International and regional powers have backed opposing
sides, with Russia and Iran supporting Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad and Western powers and Gulf Arab states largely backing
the rebels. The U.N. Security Council has been largely
"It is essential to stem the flow of arms pouring into the
country. It is irresponsible for foreign powers and groups to
give continued military support to parties in Syria that are
committing atrocities," Ban said.
"I urge the Security Council to impose an arms embargo. If
divisions in the Council continue to prevent such a step, I urge
countries to do so individually. Syria's neighbors should
enforce a firm prohibition on the use of their land borders and
airspace for arms flows and smuggling into Syria," he said.
Russia, supported by China, has shielded Syria on the U.N.
Security Council during the conflict by vetoing four resolutions
that threatened action against Assad's government. Russia is
also one of Syria's main arms suppliers.
The United States is supplying rebels with "non-lethal" aid
- such as radios, trucks and training. But some U.S. officials
say small arms and anti-tank missiles are also being given.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)