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Syria: U.N. observers attacked by tanks

(CBS/AP) A convoy of vehicles led by the head of the U.N. observers mission was attacked by tanks Sunday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

No one was injured, but Ban said a dozen armored vehicles used by the military observers were destroyed by blasts and shelling, and a convoy carrying the general heading the force was targeted on Sunday.

The U.N.'s military observer force in Syria has been sidelined by the violence and lack of political will in the Security Council.

Secretary-General Ban on Monday singled out Syria's government for censure, telling it to halt its violent crackdown on the dissidents and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad's regime.

He noted that his peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous, recently went to Syria where he "called on the government to end its use of heavy weapons and demonstrate the commitment to ending the armed violence. Government officials have repeatedly said they would honor these commitments.

"We are still waiting for them to act," Ban said. "The government is adding to its brutal crackdown by attacking heavily populated areas with fighter aircraft and helicopters.

"The armed opposition groups have also stepped up their attacks," Ban told reporters.

The U.N. observer mission's latest 30-day mandate is due to expire in August, and the United States, Britain and France do not want to see it extended under these circumstances.

"It's important, again, that the Syrian government must fully cooperate with the U.N. mission and must cease these violent measures," Ban said. "We are deeply concerned that they are using all kinds of heavy equipment, including military airplanes, attack helicopters and heavy weaponry This is an unacceptable situation. Every day, more than 100 people are being killed. This cannot go on this way."

"With the Security Council unable to support further measures in Syria because of the double veto by China and Russia, the observer mission of the Kofi Annan peace plan is doing what it can, but attacks against it make it hard to justify its continued presence," CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said.

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With the Security Council bogged down, Saudi Arabia is circulating a draft General Assembly resolution demanding an end to the violence in Syria, backing political dialogue and transition, and calling for Syria's chemical weapons to be held secure.

However, General Assembly resolutions are not enforceable by sanctions or military intervention. No date has been set for the introduction of the Saudi Arabia-sponsored, Arab-backed draft resolution.

Syria recently acknowledged for the first time that it possesses chemical weapons, but said it would only use them if the country came under foreign attack.

This prompted Ban to chide Damascus again: "Let me also reiterate my concern about weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons."

"The use of these arms is prohibited under international law. Any use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime and a major concern for the entire international community. I call on the government to renounce the possibility of using these weapons under any circumstances, and to insure the safety and security of stockpiles," Ban said.

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