The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has said he fears the country could "turn into a new Somalia" unless the crisis does not end soon.
In an interview with the newspaper al-Hayat, Mr Brahimi warned of a scenario in which warlords and militia filled a void left by a collapsed state.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991.
Meanwhile, the UK said it would support offering President Bashar al-Assad a safe exit if it ended the bloodshed.
Prime Minister David Cameron told al-Arabiya TV that the international community should consider anything "to get that man out of the country".
But he also said he would favour Mr Assad "facing the full force of international law and justice for what he has done".'Difficult and scary truth'
Mr Brahimi, who succeeded Kofi Annan as the international envoy to Syria in August, spoke to al-Hayat a week after the failure of the four-day ceasefire he brokered to coincide with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
In the interview, the Algerian diplomat played down the risk of sectarian and ethnic partition - which some observers have suggested could see President Assad's powerful Alawite minority forming a state in Syria's north-east - warning that the country faced something worse.
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