Damascus: UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged world powers to act "in the name of humanity" against Syria's crackdown on dissent, as a US official likened the Damascus regime to a "dead man walking."
     
Activists said Syrian forces killed another 21 civilians on a day when the US State Department's special coordinator on Middle East affairs Frederic Hof told US lawmakers that "change is surely coming to Syria."
     
Ban told reporters in New York on Wednesday that the status quo in Syria -- where security forces reportedly shot dead civilians yesterday, cut power lines and conducted raids and arrests -- "cannot go on."
     
"In the name of humanity, it is time for the international community to act", he said.
     
He said he had sent a UN Human Rights Council report on President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown to the Security Council, which could increase pressure on it to act against Syria, where crimes against humanity may have been committed.
     
Washington levelled tough rhetoric against both Assad's regime and Security Council members who have blocked UN action.
     
"It is difficult to predict how much time they have," Hof said in a hearing on US policy toward Damascus, referring to Assad and his loyalists.
     
He also said it was vital for UN Security Council efforts to protect Syrians from Assad's security forces, calling on Russia, China and India to stop opposing UN action.

"We ask those governments that are insulating this regime from the will of Syria's citizenry: do not make innocent civilians pay the price for your political calculations," Hof said.
     
"The international community's duty to the Syrian people transcends power politics."
     
In October, Russia and China blocked a resolution condemning Assad and Moscow said the West is pursuing an agenda of "regime change" by putting pressure on Damascus but not on armed groups.
     
Hof said that Moscow must be convinced that its support for Assad "is not only helping to facilitate a humanitarian catastrophe, but it is manifestly not in the interests of the Russian Federation because change is surely coming to Syria."

(Agencies)