Syria's civil war is worsening and could spread across the Middle East, an international envoy has told the UN Security Council.
Lakhdar Brahimi said the situation is "extremely bad and getting worse", adding that it is a "threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world."
Activists claim nearly 30,000 people have died in the uprising which began in March 2011 - this includes reports of attacks on Monday by Syrian warplanes in the northern city of Aleppo.
Mr Brahimi has just returned from Syria and refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, and produced a gloomy report of a looming food crisis, battle-damaged schools and shuttered factories.
However he said he was putting together a new plan that he hoped could break the deadlock, but did not elaborate on when it would be ready.
He insisted that he saw grounds for optimism: "I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward, that you cannot go back to the Syria of the past.
"I told everybody in Damascus and everywhere that reform is not enough anymore, what is needed is change," said Brahimi, who has met with President Bashar al Assad and other regime officials in Damascus.
The charity Save The Children has warned that youngsters in the country are being badly traumatised from witnessing killings, torture and other atrocities in the conflict.
Testimony collected from refugees shows that many children have been the target of brutal attacks, and witnessed and experienced torture.
The aid agency called for the UN to step up its documentation of all violations of children's rights in Syria, and said that it should increase the money it spends doing this.
The charity’s chief executive Justin Forsyth said: "No child should ever see the horrors being described on a daily basis to our staff on the ground: stories of torture, murder and terror."