United Nations, May 23: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in two Syrian coastal cities and voiced concern about the military escalation in and around Damascus.
More than 148 people were killed in the bomb blasts at bus stations, hospitals and a power station in the cities of Jableh and Tartus, two strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Ban "condemns the terrorist attacks today that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartus," said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. He expressed "great concern of the escalating military activity in many areas in and around Damascus", particularly in Daraya, Aleppo and Idlib and in northern Homs, especially Al-Houla, he added.
Fourteen civilians -- four of them children -- were killed when a barrage of barrel bombs hit the town of Al-Houla and neighboring villages last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Barrel bombs are indiscriminate weapons typically dropped from helicopters.
Their use in Syria's war has come under fierce criticism by rights groups but the regime denies using them. Ban renewed his call to all warring factions to spare civilians and said those responsible for such attacks must face justice.