The international peace envoy to Syria has met with President Bashar al-Assad, and says the crisis in the country is getting worse.
Lakhdar Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus Saturday, their first meeting since Brahimi took over as the U.N. and Arab League special envoy. The meeting took place as new reports came in of clashes between Syrian forces and rebels and civilians outside Damascus and in Aleppo.
Brahimi told reporters great efforts will be made to end the conflict, but the crisis now poses a threat to the entire region and the world.
Syria maintains its forces are fighting Islamist terrorists. Syrian state media quoted Assad as telling Brahimi that the crisis can only be stopped if countries that finance and train the terrorists are stopped.
Brahimi replaced former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the envoy to Syria two weeks ago.
After arriving in Syria Thursday, he described his mission to end the 18-month-long crisis as "nearly impossible."
On Friday, a U.N. spokesman said Brahimi met with Syrian officials, U.N. staff, Red Cross officers and envoys from Russia and China. Brahimi is also set to meet with a Syrian opposition group and a European Union delegation.
Eighteen months of fighting between government forces and rebels has killed about 20,000 people, mostly civilians. U.N. officials say the war has driven more than 1 million people from their homes.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 130 people were killed in violence in Syria on Friday alone.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.