- Regime: Three pro-government-TV staffers are killed in a “terrorist attack”
- Suburban Damascus reportedly endures some of its worst violence yet
- Opposition: At least 113 people were killed across Syria on Tuesday
- “Our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war,” al-Assad says
(CNN) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is offering no concessions to those demanding his ouster, saying his country is in “a state of real war” and indicating his regime must quash the opposition.
“When we’re in a state of war, all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war,” al-Assad said Tuesday, 15 months after his regime started cracking down on anti-government protesters.
Hours after the president’s remarks, his government reported three employees of the pro-regime al-Ikhbaria satellite channel were killed Wednesday after “terrorists planted explosive devices in the headquarters” of the network.
The al-Assad regime has accused foreign media of conspiring against the country and said al-Ikhbaria works to counter the “sinister campaign.” But observers say al-Ikhbaria is a mouthpiece for the government’s propaganda, refusing to acknowledge the regime’s brutal violence on dissidents seeking freedom.
While the war of words continues, the outskirts of the Syrian capital are reportedly seeing some of the worst violence there yet.
At least 33 of the 113 people reported killed Tuesday were from the Damascus suburbs of Hameh, Qudsaya and Douma, said the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria.
The group said fierce clashes erupted again Wednesday morning between the rebel Free Syrian Army and regime forces in suburban Damascus.
U.S. intelligence officials say the regime and rebel fighters are locked in a “seesaw battle.”
“It doesn’t seem either side is in a position to prevail or dominate. We are looking at a protracted conflict,” said one intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.
But the officials still believe al-Assad will eventually be forced from power.
Rebels have improved their tactics and now number between 10,000 and 15,000, according to U.S. estimates. They have increasingly attacked government checkpoints and facilities and conducted in hit-and-run operations, according to the intelligence officials.
But as the opposition improves, the regime has stepped up its attacks, employing brutal militias loyal to al-Assad to carry out atrocities and pummeling neighborhoods with artillery fired from helicopters.
With the carnage mounting every day, Syria’s relations with the global community have increasingly deteriorated.
On Tuesday, al-Assad asked his Cabinet to stay away from Western countries and instead forge alliances elsewhere.
“Our problems seem to be always with the West,” he told his Cabinet on Tuesday.
The French foreign ministry said Tuesday that France is “fully mobilized to stop the Syrian tragedy.” It said France and its European partners have worked to adopt new sanctions against al-Assad’s regime as well as officials thought to be participating in the repression of civilians, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may attend an global meeting on Syria proposed by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan — but only if the proposed participants agree that there must be a political transition in Syria, a senior administration official said.
The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011. Opposition activists say the death toll has topped 15,000, mostly civilians.
CNN’s Barbara Starr, Salma Abdelaziz, Jill Dougherty and Rima Maktabi contributed to this report.
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