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A turning point for Syria protests?

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But US officials suggest that such a characterization could aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to delegitimize his opponents and blame them for the violence, CNN reports.

But in Washington, a senior Obama administration official said calling the violence in Syria a civil war "plays into the Syrian government's hands, that this is some terrorist movement against the government."

"And that's just not the case," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "This has been, from the inception, a peaceful movement."

The official said the violence is taking Syria down "a dangerous path," but added: "It's the Syrian regime's repression and killing of innocent civilians that has exacerbated the situation and led to this."

Max Fisher at The Atlantic writes that "The Syrian conflict still appears stacked enormously in favor of Assad holding on to power, but for the first time since violence began there in March, it looks possible – however unlikely – that protesters could actually succeed in bringing revolution to their country."

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