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UN chief says progress possible in Syria

UN chief says Syria situation is grave but opportunity for progress may now exist By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the situation in Syria is grave but he believes there is an opportunity for progress and is recommending the Security Council approve a 300-strong U.N. observer mission.

Ban said in a letter to the council obtained by The Associated Press late Wednesday that he will consider developments on the ground, including consolidation of the cease-fire, before deciding on deployment of the expanded mission, which is larger than the 250 initially envisioned.

The U.N. chief said the level of violence dropped markedly on April 12 ' the day a cease-fire called for by international envoy Kofi Annan went into effect ' but said violent incidents and reported casualties have escalated again in recent day.

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