UNITED NATIONS—The U.N. Security Council put aside its deep divisions and issued a rare statement Friday condemning "in the strongest terms" the terrorist attack on a mosque in Damascus that killed more than 40 Syrians, including a senior Muslim cleric.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the suicide bombing that killed Sheik Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, a top Sunni preacher, as he was giving a sermon Thursday "in the strongest terms" and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The Security Council statement called terrorism a serious threat to international peace and security and said any terrorist acts "are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation." It reiterated the council's determination to combat all forms of terrorism.

Similar language is used by the council in its condemnation of all terrorist acts.

In this press statement, the council added a phrase that appeared aimed at the two-year conflict in Syria which has killed more than 70,000 people, reaffirming its "condemnation of all acts of violence against civilian populations."

The Security Council has been paralyzed over Syria. Russia, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and China have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring the Syrian government to end the conflict.

Ban renewed his call on all sides in Syria to immediately halt the deliberate targeting of civilians and their places of worship which constitute a war crime, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

He urged a political solution in Syria saying violence and military action "will only lead to more suffering and destruction," Nesirky said.