UN chief accuses Syrian government of violating 1974 agreement on buffer zone with Israel

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is accusing the Syrian government of violating a 1974 agreement creating a buffer zone between Syria and Israel.

Ban criticized the increased use of heavy weapons by Syria's government and armed groups operating in the separation area. He called on President Bashar Assad to withdraw troops and equipment and stop airstrikes from the zone.

Ban stressed in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday that there should be no military forces in the area of separation except U.N. peacekeepers.

The U.N. force started patrolling the Israel-Syria buffer zone a year after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and helped enforce a stable truce between the two countries until the Syrian war spilled into the zone, bringing intense fighting and the abduction of peacekeepers.