REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday that "the conflict in Syria is on a dangerous trajectory, with potential ramifications for the entire region."
He made the comments during the opening session of the Arab League summit in Baghdad, where Syria is expected to be a key topic of discussion.
Syrian representatives aren't attending the summit; Arab League member states suspended Damascus in November 2011 because of its violent crackdown against those calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.
"The absence of the Syrian Arab Republic in this summit does not reduce our interest in what has been happening in this brotherly country," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said. "We want to reaffirm our rejection to all acts of violence and bloodshed. We want to reiterate our call to seek a peaceful way out from this crisis."
Ban said that the Syrian government has "failed to fulfill its responsibility to protect its own people," and that "instead it has subjected citizens in several cities to military assault and disproportionate use of force."
Ban Ki-moon demanded that Assad put his commitments to a peace proposal by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan into immediate effect.
"The world is waiting for commitments to be translated into action. The key here is implementation. There is no time to waste," he said.
The summit is being held in Iraq for the first time in 22 years and is a symbolic attempt by the Iraqi government to show that safety and security are back in the country. Two bombs exploded in Baghdad as the summit started, but no one was reported injured.
Meanwhile, 36 people were reportedly killed in violence in Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committee, an opposition network. Ten people were killed in Damascus suburbs, 10 in Homs, six in Idlib, five in Dara, three in Hama, and two in Aleppo, the group reported.
-- Rima Marrouch
Photo: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, left, and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman review honor guards at Baghdad's airport in Iraq on Thursday. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency / Dalati and Nohra