Fighting in Syria reportedly has intensified, especially in the capital, Damascus. The UN hopes an international conference at the weekend will reduce tensions.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told his cabinet on Tuesday "we live in a real state of war from all angles. When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war," according to a report carried by Syria's state-run SANA news agency.
Special envoy Kofi Annan hopes to hold an international conference on Syria in Geneva on Saturday. The five permanent Security Council members and key regional players would attend. Annan wants Iran to take part, but the United States and Saudi Arabia have expressed objections to Iran's participation.
Fierce fighting was reported in the suburbs of Damascus between rebel fighters and Syria's elite Republican Guard. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that clashes happened overnight and into Tuesday near Republican Guard positions in Qadsaya and al-Hama, around eight kilometers (five miles) from the center of Damascus.
Heavy shelling was also reported in Homs, where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) last week tried unsuccessfully to arrange the evacuation of civilians.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his parliament that if Syrian troops approached Turkey's borders, they would be viewed as a military threat.
jm/ncy (Reuters, AFP, AP)