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Syria's Assad: We are in a 'real state of war'

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SANA/REUTERS

(Read caption) Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to the new government in Damascus in this handout photo distributed by Syrian News Agency (SANA) June 26. Al-Assad issued a decree to form a new government on Saturday, shaking up many cabinet posts but keeping the heads of the interior, defence and foreign ministries, state television reported.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last night pronounced his country to be in a state of war and told a new government to spare no effort in achieving a victory.

"We live in a real state of war from all angles," Mr. Assad said in a speech broadcast on state television, according to Reuters. "When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."

The comment, made during a speech to his newly appointed cabinet, is Assad's first pronouncement of war; he has previously dismissed Syria's conflict as an armed insurgency led by foreign militants. News organizations and international leaders, including some at the United Nations, began describing the conflict as a civil war weeks ago. 

But the rebel forces now number between 10,000 and 15,000, according to US estimates, and they have stepped up their campaign, staging bolder, higher-impact attacks, CNN reports. They've also benefited from several high-level defections from the Syrian Army.

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