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UN leader condemns Syria arms suppliers

UN leader Ban Ki-moon has condemned "outside powers" for providing arms to government and rebel forces in Syria. As a car bombing was reported to have claimed more lives, Russia announced plans to withdraw citizens.

Ban and UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi condemned the weapons suppliers, without naming them directly in a statement on Monday evening.

"Both expressed deep disappointment and anguish at the appalling levels of killing and destruction carried out by both the government and the opposition, fueled by outside powers providing weaponry to both sides," the UN press office said.

Russia and Iran are believed to be major arms suppliers to troops loyal to President Bashar Assad's government. Damascus claims that Turkey and Qatar are among the countries arming the rebels.

Both senior officials also expressed "consternation about the lack of a unified international posture that could lead to a transition as agreed at Geneva last June and put an end to the desperate suffering of the Syrian people."

Brahimi was in New York on Monday for talks with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the 22-month-long conflict, which the UN itself says has claimed 60,000 lives. The envoy has been trying to end the international deadlock that currently exists on Syria.

Three resolutions vetoed

Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions that condemn the Syrian government over the conflict and both have rejected the idea of sanctioning the government.

In Syria itself, a car bomb targeting pro-government militia reportedly claimed more lives late on Monday. "A terrorist suicide car bomb was detonated in the heart of Salmiyeh, leaving a number of people killed and others wounded," the state news agency SANA said.

According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll from the bombing was at least 30.

Earlier, Russia had said it would send planes to the country to evacuate citizens wishing to leave. "On orders from the leadership of the Russian Federation, the Emergencies Ministry is sending two airplanes to Beirut so that all Russians who want can leave," Irina Rossious, spokeswoman for the emergency situations ministry told the Interfax news agency.

Some 100 Russian were expected to leave the country, in what has been viewed as a sign that the situation around Damascus was expected to deteriorate by the Kremlin.

rc / ccp (APF, dpa, Reuters)