DAMASCUS, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Several bombings Wednesday near Syria's capital Damascus posed more challenges to the UN monitoring mission, which witnessed one of them on its way to do field work.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday condemned the bomb attack that occurred in the vicinity of a convoy of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), saying that "this incident demonstrates the difficult and challenging conditions under which the UN observers are operating."
He "calls on all parties to adhere to the cessation of violence and to cooperate with, support and protect the UNSMIS observers," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing. "This mission and the efforts of the JSE (joint special envoy) are possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize the country and avert a civil war."
The spokesman said that Ban is "deeply concerned" about an increase in the use of explosive devices throughout Syria of late.
"Such incidents, in addition to the continued violence reported in many cities in Syria, call into question the commitment of the parties to the cessation of violence and may have a direct impact on the future of the mission," he said.
An explosion occurred close to the passage of a convoy of UN observers heading to Syrian's southern province of Daraa soon after they had crossed a military checkpoint, injuring eight Syrian accompanying security personnel.
Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer Major-General Robert Mood said after the incident that "This was a graphic example of what the Syrian people are suffering on a daily basis and underlines the imperative for all forms of violence to stop."
He described the observers'job as "tough," but stressed that they will continue as usual.
Also on Wednesday, another explosion ripped through the state security compound in Damascus' suburb of Jaramana, and a third bomb went off near Jaramana overnight Wednesday, causing no casualties.
The United States called the roadside bomb attack on UN observers "further evidence" that the ceasefire is not holding in Syria and assumed the bulk of the responsibility for the violence to the Syrian government.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday decided to extend the existing sanctions on Syria for one year, citing the "unusual and extraordinary threat" the Arab nation poses to U.S. national security.
In a notice, the president said that the actions and policies being pursued by the Syrian government "continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States."
Meanwhile, France firmly condemned the bomb attack. French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said Syrian authorities are responsible for ensuring the safety of UN observers with "total freedom of movement during the mission."
"Our priority is the rapid and full deployment of the observer mission of the United Nations in Syria and that a democratic transition is made possible," Valero said.
A day earlier, UN-Arab League joint envoy for Syria Kofi Annan urged the Syrian government and the opposition to halt the violence and start a credible process of political dialogue, "otherwise Syria would descend into full civil war," and the "implications of that are quite frightening."
Annan made it clear that there have been numerous violations to his six-point peace plan that was meant to help end the 14-month-long unrest in Syria. The envoy called for an end to the violence to pave the way for a political settlement.
"The level of violence and abuses are unacceptable," he said, adding that a total of 300 observers will be on the ground in Syria by the end of May.
On Monday, Syria successfully held its first parliamentary elections under its new constitution that ends the monopoly on power of Assad's Baath Party and allows a multi-party system. However, the United States dismissed the elections as "ludicrous."