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U.N. Monitors Were Shot At Today In Syria, Secretary General Says

United Nations monitors in Syria were shot at with small arms fire today as they tried to reach the scene of another alleged massacre, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said this morning.

At the U.N. General Assembly, Ban also condemned today's "shocking and sickening" reports about the killings of dozens. And, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, he called this yet another "pivotal moment" that could see Syria fall into a full-blown civil war.

As we said earlier, activists inside Syria report that government forces and militias that support President Bashar Assad shelled and shot men, women and children Wednesday in central Syria. The government claims no such thing happened, but the incident is similar to a May 25 massacre in Houla, Syria, that left more than 100 civilians dead and has been confirmed by independent watchdogs.

Just who fired at the monitors today isn't yet clear. But earlier, the head of the U.N. observer mission said that the monitors had been stopped and turned back at Syrian army checkpoints, Reuters reports.

Update at 11:50 a.m. ET. More From The Secretary General's Address:

-- "For many months, it has been evident that President Assad and his government have lost all legitimacy."

-- "The trail of blood leads back to those responsible. Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity."

-- "I ... call on President Assad to urgently and unconditionally implement the six-point Annan plan. I call on President Assad to allow the U.N. observer mission to do its work, safely and without interference or intimidation.
I call on Syrian authorities to allow U.N. humanitarian teams to operate freely. More than 1 million civilians need assistance. So do the more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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