Homs: The head of the UN mission in Syria said on Friday that government forces must make the first move to end nearly 14 months of bloodshed after a watchdog said a security force raid on a university campus left four students dead.

Major General Robert Mood, the veteran Norwegian peacekeeper in charge of the hard-won military observer mission overseeing a troubled UN-backed ceasefire, made the call during a visit to Syria's third-largest city Homs, which has seen some of the deadliest fighting of the conflict.

"If you have two individuals using on each other all their weapons, who is going to be the first one to move the finger? Who is going to be the first one to make the move?" Mood asked.

"My approach to that is that the strongest party needs to make the first move," he told reporters.

"I was referring to the Syrian government and the Syrian army. They have the strength, they have the position and they also have the potential generosity to make the first step in a good direction," he said.

Mood's comments came after a human rights watchdog reported a bloody pre-dawn raid by security force backed by militia on the main university campus in Syria's second-largest city Aleppo, previously largely spared the bloodshed rocking the country since March last year.

Four students were killed and 28 wounded, three of them critically, when government forces and armed supporters stormed dormitories following a campus demonstration, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Another 200 students were arrested in what the Britain-based watchdog said could prove a turning point of the uprising in the northern regional capital.

"The city of Aleppo hasn't joined the anti-regime revolt thus far but the seriousness of these events will push residents to mobilise in solidarity with the students," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told.

"Security forces stormed the university in response to increased student protests lately inside and outside the campus," he said.

"The university suspended classes because neither the management nor the security forces seem able to control the situation."

Students described scenes of panic as regime troops entered the dormitories, with some pupils jumping from windows to avoid arrest.


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