UN Chief Ban Ki-moon
UN Chief Ban Ki-moonIsrael News photo: Flash 90

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon slammed the Security Council on Thursday for failing to pass a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying the inaction was "disastrous for the Syrian people."

While the Arab League and Western powers have imposed sanctions on Syria and called for Assad to step down, Russia and China have consistently blocked such moves on an International level. Russia has billions of dollars in contracts and investments tied up in Syria, while China is a major consumer of Syrian oil.

"For too many months we have watched this crisis deepen," Ban said. "We have seen escalating violence, brutal crackdowns and tremendous suffering by the Syrian people. I deeply regret that the security council has been unable to speak with one clear voice to end the bloodshed."

Ban said the Security Council's behavior "has encouraged the Syrian government to step up its war on its own people. Thousands have been killed in cold blood, shredding President Assad's claims to speak for the Syrian people."

Ban described the situation in Homs as "unacceptable to humanity" and "a grim harbinger of worse to come."  

The death toll in that city alone on Thursday was 117.

His comments come as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed dozens of civilians on Thursday, in the sixth day of ongoing clashes between security forces and anti-regime protesters in the central city of Homs.

Homs has been a repeated flashpoint for tensions in the almost year-long popular uprising against Assad's regime. Assad's bloody crackdown has killed at least 6,000 civilians since protests began, but officials at the UN Human Rights Council say they have stopped counting amid the chaos.

Syria has refused to allow foreign journalists and International observers into the country and verifying daily death counts has become nearly impossible. Arab League monitors, in Syria for only a few months, were recalled due to rising violence and instability.

Clashes between Syrian troops and army defectors with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) also broke out near the border with Turkey. The growing FSA insurgency is said to consist of some 20,000 lightly armed fighters who have mounted numerous deadly raids across the country.

It is widely believed they have virtually unimpeded movement in the north. Assad's regime claims at least 2,000 security personnel have been killed in clashes with 'terrorists.' Most security personnel have been killed since the SFA began fighting.

During his remarks on Thursday, Ban said the Arab League would send its monitors back into Syria, and that the UN might also join the mission.

"We stand ready to assist in any way that will contribute towards improvement on the ground and to the overall situation," he said.