Al-Assad: 'We're in a state of war'

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Story highlights

  • The dead include 33 in the Damascus suburbs, the opposition says
  • The U.N. Security Council is briefed on the U.N. monitoring mission
  • Syria's president swears in new cabinet
Here is a look at key events Tuesday in the ongoing crisis in Syria:
Syria's government
-- "We are in a state of real war, in every aspect of the words, and when we're in a state of war, all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war," President Bashar al-Assad told his new Cabinet during a speech about the economy and domestic issues in which he called for unity to make the country strong.
-- Al-Assad asked his ministers to stay away from Western countries and instead establish partnerships with countries in the East and South, references to Russia, Latin America and Africa.
-- "Our problems seems to be always with the West," he told his Cabinet. "We noticed that the West takes but never gives."
-- Al-Assad swore in the members of his new Cabinet in a ceremony broadcast Tuesday on Syrian state television. The head of defense, the foreign minister and the interior minister remain the same in the new government formed by Prime Minister Riyad Hijab.
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Syrians afraid of the unknown
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-- George Netto of the opposition Syrian National Council dismissed the new government, saying, "Any change in the government is fake under the same regime and under the same modus operandi."
Violence
-- 113 people were killed Tuesday, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists. Thirty-three people were reported dead in the Damascus suburbs of Hameh, Qudsaya and Douma, the group said.
-- Fierce clashes began at dawn Tuesday between regime troops and rebels in Qudsaya, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
-- The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that authorities clashed with "terrorists" in Idlib and Douma, as well as Hameh in the Damascus suburbs. "Tens of terrorists" were killed, the news agency said, citing an official source; "a large number" were wounded, others were arrested, and weapons including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles and machine guns were seized.
-- The Local Coordination Committees of Syria network has documented 840 deaths in Syria since June 16, when the United Nations suspended the work of its monitoring mission.
Tension with Turkey
-- Turkey is changing its military rules of engagement and will treat any military approach by Syria as a threat, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, after Syria shot down a Turkish military plane last week.
-- NATO condemned Syria's downing of the Turkish plane "in the strongest terms," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the alliance met Tuesday at Turkey's request. NATO did not promise any action in response, and Turkey did not invoke the NATO article calling for collective defense of members, Rasmussen said.
-- "Moscow is concerned" about events surrounding the Turkish plane's shoot-down, a Russian Foreign Ministry representative identified as A. Lukashevich said Tuesday. "In our opinion, it is important that the incident not be seen as a provocation or a deliberate action that could lead toward destabilizing the situation."
Diplomacy
-- Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Tuesday that a solution outside the aegis of the United Nations could be considered if talks this week and next fail to achieve peace in Syria, his spokesman said. "The minister said that all chances must be given to Geneva meeting this weekend and Friends of Syria meeting in Paris the week after," the spokesman, Michel Malherbe, told CNN. "Only if all efforts fail, some kind of other solution, hypothetically out of the U.N. frame then, would be envisaged."
-- U.S. intelligence officials are describing the fighting in Syria as a stalemate between the regime and opposition forces, but continue to believe al-Assad eventually will be forced from power. "We are looking at a protracted conflict," a senior US intelligence official said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
-- The U.N. Security Council was briefed on the monitoring mission Tuesday.
-- The U.N. monitoring mission in Syria remained suspended because of the security situation in the country, according to the Indian ambassador to the U.N., Hardeep Singh Puri, citing Herve Ladsous, the U.N.'s peacekeeping director.
-- France is "fully mobilized to stop the Syrian tragedy," the nation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday. France and its European partners have worked to adopt new sanctions against the regime of al-Assad and officials thought to be participating in the repression of civilians, the ministry said.
-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may attend an international meeting on Syria proposed by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan but only if the proposed participants agree that there must be a political transition in Syria, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday.
-- The French ambassador to the U.N., Gerard Araud, told reporters that Annan has not officially announced the international meeting on Syria to be held June 30 in Geneva.
-- Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the briefing "unsatisfactory" and the description of the situation in Syria as "very grim." He said an "action group" could make a difference. "Further militarization of the Syrian conflict would be a mistake," he said.
-- The Foreign Affairs Council has adopted a regulation banning the provision of insurance services "to any individual or entity transporting military equipment to Syria," the ministry said.
Syria's refugees
-- The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey as of Tuesday was 33,512, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Of those, 546 entered the country on Tuesday.