Largest protests yet in Syrian city of Aleppo

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“We condemn in the strongest terms violence in all its forms by all parties,” Fawzi said. “This must come to an end for any political process to be launched and to have a glimmer of success.”

But dialogue seems a distant hope. The opposition refuses to engage with the regime while the killings continue, and the government brands its opponents as terrorists.

Assad denies that there is a popular will behind the country’s uprising, saying foreign extremists are driving the unrest to destroy the country.

Two main activist groups, the Local Coordination Committees and the Observatory, said Rastan again came under intense shelling as of Friday morning. Videos posted online showed thick smoke and shells slamming into districts in Rastan.

“I am more convinced than ever that no amount of violence can resolve this crisis,” Mood said in Damascus. He also said recent suicide bombs and roadside blasts were alarming. “I am concerned about the incidents where explosives, improvised devices are targeting innocent civilians, innocent people because it is not going to help the situation.”

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he believes that “alarmingly and surprisingly,” al Qaeda must have been behind the massive attack in the Syrian capital last week.

The twin suicide car bombings outside a military intelligence building on May 10 bore the al Qaeda-style tactics seen in neighboring Iraq. Some 55 people died and dozens were injured in the Damascus blasts.

Ban said that al Qaeda’s involvement in the region “has created very serious problems.”

He also noted that there have also been two attacks against unarmed U.N. monitors in Syria. His comments were made to students attending the annual Model U.N. Conference in New York.

Karam reported from Beirut. AP writer John Heilprin contributed from Geneva.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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