Assad: Syria is in 'a state of war'
As the Syrian uprising enters its 16th month President Bashar al-Assad has announced that his country is in "a state of war."
President Bashar al-Assad made this statement upon addressing his new cabinet and added that "all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war," BBC News
, Deutshe Welle
He has stated that the West "takes and never gives and this has been proven at every stage," and added that "we want good relations with all countries but we must know where our interests lie."
Fighting in Syria's capital Damascus is reportedly intensifying today in the Qadsaya and al-Hama suburbs near positions guarded by the Republican Guard. The Syrian Republican Guard is an elite unit which is headed by Bashar's little brother Maher whose job is to protect the capital city and root out and deal with oppositional elements within it. State controlled national television reported the clashes that took place today and claims that several "terrorists" were killed and captured by security forces, it also claims that some of them are foreign fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that 10 people have been killed in shelling in the Qadsaya suburb on top of 58 dead in violent clashes throughout the country.
The situation has been getting more violent as the Syrian Army has systematically stepped up its campaign to crush the uprising by bombarding rebel controlled areas around the country. This has seen renewed shelling of the country's third largest city Homs, which has been the centre of the 16-month-long uprising.
The International Committee of the Red Cross had attempted to mediate a temporary 2-hour ceasefire last week
. This was in order to send in teams to evacuate civilians from the most devastated areas of the city, but they have been unable to do so due to unrelenting shelling.
The U.N. and Arab League appointed peace envoy Kofi Annan -- in a clear attempt to try and salvage his prior attempts to bring about a tangible ceasefire and bring both sides to the table to discuss and draft an agreeable peace plan -- has planned to convene another international conference in Geneva to discuss the deteriorating situation in Syria. He wants Iran to take part since it is a key regional player due to its direct support of the Assad regime. However the United States and Saudi Arabia (the latter of which is directly supplying arms to the opposition in Syria) are strongly opposed to any participation by Iran in these talks.
The United Nations Mission in Syria is currently suspended due to the violence throughout the country.