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Assad Says Syria at War
June 26, 2012

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As the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nears 18 months, it is increasingly resembling a civil war, with both sides armed with weapons and benefactors. Assad has used the word "war," saying that his has ordered his newly reshuffled government to to win at all costs.

Assad has long said that the uprising against his government has been funded and inspired by foreign terrorist groups. It's still not entirely clear whether that is the case, although the opposition is more and more well-funded and well-armed with every passing week. The latest reports of fighting were in Damascus itself, with a key road from Damascus to Beirut, Lebanon, being inaccessible as a result.

Also part of the narrative now is a growing war of words with Turkey. Syrian forces shot down a Turkish plane last week, and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan promised a military response to any further hostile actions. Representatives of NATO met in Brussels, Belgium, and issued a statement condemning the actions, which resulted in two deaths. Turkey says the plane strayed into Syrian airspace accidentally, and Syria insisted that no identification of the plane's nationality was evident until after the plane was shot down.

The Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition group, is based in Turkey. More than 30,000 Syrians have fled across the border into Turkey since fighting began.
Despite the continued violence across Syria, other countries have yet to issue a call for the kind of action carried out against Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan government in 2011. Syria continues to have support on the United Nations Security Council, with China and Russia repeatedly vetoing resolutions condemning Assad and his government, and Russia continues to supply Syria with weapons.

All of the military activity flies in the face of a peace plan put forward by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who visited Syria more than a month ago and put forward a six-part plan that leaders of both sides agreed to in principle. The fragile cease-fire lasted several days before both sides abandoned it, trading accusations of breaching the peace.

Reports from human rights groups described heavy fighting across the country, most notably in the capital. Independent observers have estimated the death toll at more than 10,000 civilians. Government estimates put the military death toll in the several hundreds.



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