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Syria war deepens: Damascus sees worst fighting yet (+video)

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"The rebels are trying to hold the army off in al-Zahra al-Jadeeda [neighborhood]. There is fighting there and the sound of bombardment and rocket-propelled grenades is echoing from there," Radeef, an opposition activist, told Reuters by phone from Midan. "Armored vehicles are now deployed in the rest of Midan and army snipers have taken positions on rooftops."

Syrian army defector Maj. Gen. Adnan Salo told Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that rebels now control 60 percent of the country, and said limited military intervention from NATO would topple President Bashar al-Assad's regime, reports Haaretz.

"All we need from NATO are two air attacks on the presidential palace to topple the regime and we will be able to control all the Syrian cities," Gen. Salo told the newspaper.

The BBC adds that mortar fire was reportedly heard on the southern edge of the city and a government military convoy was attacked by rebels in the Kfar Sousa district of the city to the west. 

The uptick in violence in Damascus comes just a day after the International Committee of the Red Cross declared the situation in Syria to be a civil war, thereby applying international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, to the conflict. The ICRC's declaration opens the door to prosecutions for war crimes by any combatants who target civilians or abuse detained military captives.

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