UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Thursday voiced his grave concern over recent escalating violence in Syria, calling on all parties to focus on a peaceful political solution to the conflict.
"The secretary-general is gravely concerned about escalating fighting in Syria in recent days, particularly in Aleppo, where reports indicate that civilians are among hundreds of people killed and injured," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesperson.
In the statement, Ban condemned "the continued and indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and mortar shelling against areas with civilian population."
He stressed that all parties to the conflict must adhere to international humanitarian and human rights law, adding that all civilians must be protected in any situation.
"The secretary-general is particularly concerned that, as efforts to bring the Syrian sides to a negotiating table intensify, further escalation of violence will only serve the agendas of those who see military means as the only way forward, at the expense of the Syrian people who have suffered enough already," said the statement.
The UN chief also appealed to the warring sides to free all persons detained or abducted, end the sieges and allow unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need.
"Most importantly, all must start to work immediately on reducing the levels of violence and focusing instead on a peaceful, political solution to the conflict," he added.
According to UN, well over 100,000 people have already been killed in Syria and 8 million driven from their homes, with 2 million of them seeking refuge in neighboring countries, since the conflict first erupted in March 2011.
Preparations are underway for the international conference in which the Syrian government and the opposition will officially meet for the first time to discuss peace efforts.
The conference will be held in Switzerland in two parts, with the opening session in Montreux on Jan. 22 2014, and then moving on Jan. 24 to the UN office in Geneva.
The goal of the conference will be to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012, which called for the creation of a transitional government that would lead to holding elections.