Topic: Protests in Syria
Bashar al-Assad said his country is in "a state of war" and ordered his new cabinet to spare no effort in crushing the uprising against his rule© AFP 2013/ Stringer
Bashar al-Assad said his country is in "a state of war" and ordered his new cabinet to spare no effort in crushing the uprising against his rule© RIA Novosti. Sergey Guneev
MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Wednesday his country is in "a state of war" and ordered his new cabinet to spare no effort in crushing the 15-month-old uprising against his rule, al Jazeera television reported.
"We live in a real state of war from all angles," President Assad told members of the cabinet who were sworn in on Tuesday, in remarks carried by the official SANA news agency.
"When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."
Just hours after Assad's speech - which also included a denunciation of the West - gunmen attacked the offices of the pro-government Ikhbariya TV channel, killing three people, SANA reported.
At least 68 people were killed in clashes across Syria on Tuesday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It also described heavy fighting near the positions of the Republican Guard in Qadsaya and al-Hama, just kilometers away from downtown Damascus.
The fresh violence comes amid heightened tensions over Syria's shooting down of a Turkish military jet over the Mediterranean last week.
In Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the rules of engagement for its military had changed and that "every military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border" would be seen as a military target.
Syria insists it engaged the F-4 Phantom "according to the laws that govern such situations" after it violated its airspace. Turkey says the plane was shot down in international airspace.
An emergency NATO meeting, convened by Turkey's request, condemned the downing of the plane as "unacceptable" and expressed "strong solidarity" with Ankara.
The UN says more than 12,000 people have died in Syria since pro-democracy protests began in March last year.
In April, the Damascus government agreed to a UN-backed peace plan, but a ceasefire between government troops and rebels - the plan's principal point - never took hold.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would attend an international conference on Syria in Geneva on June 30.
Speaking in Jordan on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that Iran also take part in the meeting, saying that ignoring Iran "would complicate the process."
The United States rejected the proposal.
"Given [Iran's] support for the regime and its continued behavior vis-a-vis Syria, we just don't see it as able to make a helpful contribution right now," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing in Washington.
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