United Nations: Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has been appointed as the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria tasked with engaging with all relevant interlocutors within and outside the troubled country to end the year-long violence and humanitarian crisis.

Annan, 73, will serve as the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis.

The Special Envoy will "provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis," a statement said here.

Annan would consult broadly and "engage with all relevant interlocutors within and outside Syria" in order to end the violence and the humanitarian crisis,

He will "facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Nabil El-Araby expressed their gratitude to Annan for "accepting this important mission at a critical time for the people of Syria."

A deputy for the Joint Special Envoy will be chosen from the Arab region.

Over 7,000 people, including nearly 500 children, have been killed in the past 11 months of civilian protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Annan, who served two terms as UN chief from 1997 through 2006, will be guided by the provisions of the UN General Assembly resolution passed on February 16 as well as by the relevant resolutions of the League of Arab States on Syria.

Annan's appointment came on a day when a new report by a UN-appointed panel said the human rights situation in Syria has deteriorated "significantly" since last November and that security forces continue their widespread, systematic and gross violations against the civilian population.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, set up by the UN Human Rights Council, said the crisis has become "increasingly violent and militarised" in recent months.

It said the rise of an armed opposition led the Government to intensify its violent repression, with no let-up in the crackdown on peaceful protesters and raids on neighbourhoods suspected of supporting the opposition.

Earlier this week, two western journalists - American war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik - were killed in Syria as security forces shelled the central city of Homs, killing hundreds of other civilians.

China welcomed Annan's appointment as the special envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League to work for the resolution of Syria crisis.

"China hopes that this move will help push forward political dialogue and find a peaceful and proper resolution to the Syria issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.

Beijing's backing to Annan was regarded as significant as China along with Russia had vetoed previous UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

China was also boycotting the "Friends of Syria" Conference in Tunis in which more than 70 countries were invited to participate.