Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his country is in a state of war and ordered his new cabinet to crush the anti-regime uprising as Turkey vowed to retaliate for the downing of one of its jets, AFP reports.
Rebel forces and Syrian army units, meanwhile, engaged in deadly combat around elite Republican Guard posts in the suburbs of Damascus, as 116 people were killed across the country, a monitoring group said.
Amid mounting tensions in the anti-regime uprising now in its 16th month, Assad admitted that Syria is in a “real situation of war.”
“When one is in a state of war, all our policies and capabilities must be used to secure victory,” he told the new cabinet, the official SANA news agency reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday’s death toll comprised 68 civilians, 41 soldiers and seven rebels.
The United States said a “desperate” Assad was slowly losing his grip on power, citing defections and fighting raging increasingly close to Damascus, and offered new support to its NATO ally Turkey after Syrian forces shot down one of its fighter planes last week.
“Clearly, Bashar al-Assad has been slowly — too slowly — losing his grip over his country,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to a campaign event in Atlanta.
In Ankara, meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had changed its rules of engagement and would now treat any Syrian security threat as a military target after the incident.