Recalling that Syria's peaceful anti-government protests in 2011 were met by oppressive violence at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and led to a protracted conflict, the UN leader appealed to the international community to rejuvenate the Geneva Syria peace talks.
"Three years ago, the Syrian people stood up in peaceful protest to demand their universal rights and freedoms. In response came brutal force, escalating bloodshed and the devastation of civil war.
"Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or destroyed, with hundreds of people more killed every day... Over the past year, this conflict also saw the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.
"Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels. Syria’s neighbours are bearing the increasingly unbearable humanitarian, security, political and socio-economic effects of this conflict."
Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to bolster its efforts to "put a stop to this appalling conflict." Russia and the U.S., in particular, can "take clear steps to reenergize the Geneva process." The Syrian government and opposition must "rise to the challenge" of fully engaging in the peace process.
"Working with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Syrian sides and regional and international actors must act now to bring the tragedy in Syria to an end."
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]
Syrian Al Qaida group executes Lebanese soldier