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President Assad's 'war' comments mark intensification of conflict in Syria

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to the new government in Damascus today. Photo: Sana Sana / Reuters

President Bashar al-Assad's comments today are very significant indeed.

For months the world has been engaged in a hair splitting argument: is this a civil war or is it not?

Assad has now answered that question. He said it is a war from all angles.

War is a word he wouldn't have dared to utter a few months ago because it would have been seen to been conceding something that he didn't want to concede.

He said it to Syria's new cabinet ministers and now I think it will unsettle an awful lot of people, including many of his supporters, who were perhaps in denial.

Many of them are in Damascus and the scene today was of fierce fighting. The conflict is spreading, it is becoming more militarised, and more internationalised.

A new government was sworn in Syria before President Bashar al-Assad today. Credit: Sana Sana / Reuters

We had NATO condemning Syria today and the world's strongest military alliance is antagonised because a NATO plane - a Turkish jet - was shot down.

Day by day the violence is intensifying and I think the president's use of the word 'war' just adds to that.

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