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Activists say as many as 13,000 people have died in Assad’s crackdown against a popular uprising that began in March 2011. One year after the revolt started, the U.N. put the toll at 9,000, but many more have died since.

Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have pledged funds to aid Syria’s rebels, but there is no direct evidence that anti-Assad forces are becoming better armed. The Arab League, however, does not appear ready to deploy its own troops.

“The levels of violence are still totally unacceptable,” Annan said.


Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.