Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has essentially declared a civil war in a meeting with his new cabinet, which was broadcast on state-run TV. He did this as fighting raged just outside of the capital of Damascus, and as gunmen stormed a pro-government TV channel, killing seven. It’s hard not to agree with Assad that we have moved directly to an explicit civil war in Syria.
The declaration that Syria is at war marks a change of rhetoric from Assad, who had long dismissed the uprising against him as the work of scattered militants funded from abroad.
“We live in a real state of war from all angles,” Assad told a cabinet he appointed on Tuesday in a speech broadcast on state television.
“When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”
The rambling speech – Assad also commented on the benefits of renewable energy among other subjects – left little room for compromise. He denounced the west, which “takes and never gives, and this has been proven at every stage”.
At least he’s a renewable energy enthusiast!
According to human rights groups, 115 people died in fighting in Syria just yesterday. This is on top of the between 10-14,000 who have died since the beginning of the uprising last year. The old road from Damascus to Beirut, Lebanon is where much of the fighting is taking place.
The attack on the Ikhbariya TV station, just 14 miles from the capital, shows that the Free Syrian Army, left for dead after being routed at Baba Amr, has sprung back to life. The Assad regime accuses Turkey of aiding in supplying the Free Syria Army with weapons and logistical support. Tensions between Syria and Turkey, including the shooting down of a Turkish jet over international waters, risks a wider regional conflict.
The feckless UN Syrian action group, whose peace mission has by now completely failed, will meet today. In all likelihood, they will not disrupt what will probably be a protracted struggle for control of the country.