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Kerry: Syria Crisis Is ‘Grotesque,’ Getting ‘Dramatically Worse’

Secretary of State John Kerry described the growing crisis in Syria as “grotesque” Friday, urging action by the United Nations because "the situation demands that the civilized world stand up.”

Speaking to reporters while on a visit to China, he said the country’s civil war had “gotten worse, dramatically worse.”

He spoke as thousands of civilians fled a rebel-held town after it was bombed and shelled in an operation that has prompted fears of a major assault by ground troops, according to the United Nations. Military action in the town of Yabroud, in western Syria near the border with Lebanon, would fit with the government's aim of securing a corridor linking Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad's heartland on the Mediterranean coast, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile an al Qaeda splinter group executed at least 21 people including fighters from rival rebel groups and their relatives, according to the U.K.-based monitoring group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Kerry Calls Syria’s Crisis ‘Grotesque’ 0:32

“It is clear that the crisis of Syria is growing, not diminishing,” Kerry said, adding that U.N. progress had stalled “because of the opposition of certain countries” – a reference to Russia, the biggest ally of Syria’s President, Bashar Assad.

Speaking about a draft U.N. resolution being circulated in New York, he said: “So now we're back at the United Nations because the situation demands that the civilized world stand up and fight for those people who are the victims day to day of violence that comes from barrel bombs dropped from helicopters and from Scud missiles fired on innocent civilians and starvation and siege that is being laid to over 200,000, 250,000 people trapped in places where they can't get food.

“This is grotesque. And the world needs to take note and figure out what the appropriate response is."

Reuters contributed to this report.