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Amid an increasingly violent uprising, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed that he will continue to crackdown on the opposition and that he will not step down.
The remarks come after the Arab League’s deadline for an end to government violence passed last night and as reports have surfaced that a ruling Baath Party building was attacked in Damascus. If the reports of the attack on the government building are confirmed, it would mark the first time violence from the uprising has entered the capital city.
“The conflict will continue and the pressure to subjugate Syria will also continue,” said Mr. Assad in an interview with the Sunday Times. “However, I assure you that Syria will not bow down and that it will continue to resist the pressure being imposed on it.”
The Syrian president went on to say that he believed the government’s role was to “restore stability and protect civilians” by fighting those who have risen up against his government. “We have to prevent militants from doing what they are doing now, killing civilians doing massacres, in different places in Syria,” he said.
UN: 3,500 people killed since March
According to the United Nations, at least 3,500 people have been killed since the uprising began in March. Violence has risen as Syrian military units have begun defecting, providing more weapons to the opposition. Violence in Syria is difficult to verify as most foreign journalists are unable to enter Syria and those inside have extremely limited mobility, reports the BBC.
Reports that a building belonging to the ruling Baath Party was attacked remain unconfirmed, but the Free Syrian Army, made up of many military defectors has claimed responsibility for it. Initial reports indicate that the building was attacked with grenades.
Civil war imminent?
As fighting intensifies, international leaders around the world have voiced concerns that a civil war in Syria is imminent and there are growing calls for more international pressure on Syria and potentially a military intervention like that seen in Libya.
“I think there could be a civil war with a very determined and well-armed and eventually well-financed opposition that is, if not directed by, certainly influenced by defectors from the army,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with NBC.
As the situation continues its downward spiral in Syria, Libyans announced that they captured Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, the last member of the Qaddafi family who remained at large.
“[T]he media's coverage has been misleadingly simple-minded and one-dimensional, giving the impression that all we are witnessing is a heroic uprising by the Syrian masses against a brutal Baathist police state,” writes Mr. Cockburn. “But manipulation of the media by the opposition is also made easy by the lack of information from the country.”