- Bashar al-Assad - Popular revolt - Syria - unrest - war
Syria witnessing a 'state of war', Assad tells cabinet
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told his new cabinet on Tuesday that the country is in "a state of war" amid a continuing anti-regime uprising that began in March last year, the state-run SANA news agency reported.
AFP - Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that his country, in the grips of an anti-regime uprising now in its 16th month, is in a "real situation of war."
"We are witnessing a real situation of war," state news agency SANA quoted him as telling a meeting of the new Syrian cabinet.
But Assad insisted that "when one is in a state of war, all our policies and capabilities must be used to secure victory."
His remarks came as the United States on Tuesday said that a "desperate" Assad was slowly losing his grip on power, citing recent defections of army officers and soldiers to neighbouring Turkey and Jordan.
"Clearly, Bashar al-Assad has been slowly -- too slowly -- losing his grip over his country," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Syria has been hit by deadly violence that has claimed more than 15,000 lives, monitors say, since an uprising erupted in March 2011 against Assad's regime.
Assad, who has made rare public appearances since the uprising erupted, insists that his regime is battling "armed terrorist groups."
On June 3 he told parliament of his determination to crush the rebellion "at any price."
Western powers have repeatedly warned against a civil war in Syria.
On Saturday Assad issued a decree forming a new government, less than two months after controversial parliamentary elections boycotted by the opposition.