BEIRUT -- The United States accused Russia Tuesday of escalating the Syrian conflict by sending attack helicopters to President Bashar Assad's regime.

UN observers, meanwhile, were attacked with stones, metal rods and gunfire that blocked them from Haffa, a rebel-held town where civilians were feared trapped by government shelling. The observers were not hurt when an angry crowd attacked their vehicles.

The accusation by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Moscow was arming the Assad regime came as Herve Ladsous, the top UN peacekeeping official said Syria was already in a state of civil war. He was interviewed by Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

Clinton, in Washington, said: "We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

There was no immediate reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Moscow insists that any arms it supplies to its Damascus ally are not being used against anti-government protesters in the 15-month-old uprising. -- AP

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