UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Tuesday declared that Syria had begun a full-scale civil war.
Asked whether he believed Syria is in a civil war, Ladsous told a small group of reporters: “Yes I think we can say that. Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory, several cities to the opposition, and wants to retake control.”
The international body has previously shied away from declaring the violence in the country a civil conflict.
Clashes between Syrian government forces and armed rebels have intensified across the country in recent days, with both sides carrying out regular attacks contrary to an international peace plan led by Kofi Annan.
Earlier the UN accused the Syrian government of fresh human rights abuses on Tuesday, including using children as “human shields.”
Branding Damascus as one of the worst offenders on its annual “list of shame” of conflict countries, the UN said in a report that Syrian children as young as nine had been victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence.
“Rarely, have I seen such brutality against children as in Syria, where girls and boys are detained, tortured, executed, and used as human shields,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children in armed conflict, said before releasing the report.