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Assad Says Country In A 'Real State Of War'

A picture of President Bashar al-Assad at one of the entrances of Homs city on June 13.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country is in a state of war as his government battles an insurgency and civil protests.

"We are living in a state of real war from all angles. When we live in such a situation, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war," Assad told a cabinet he appointed on June 26 in a speech aired on Syrian state television.

Assad also rejected calls from Western countries to step down, telling his cabinet that the West "takes and never gives and this has been proven at every stage".

Separately, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO will "stand together with Turkey" amid Ankara's confrontation with Syria over the downing of a Turkish jet last week.

Rasmussen said after a meeting of NATO's North Atlantic Council that the security of the alliance is "indivisible."

"We consider these acts to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life," he told a news conference in Brussels.

No Article 5

However, the NATO meeting did not invoke Article 5 of the alliance's charter, which would have characterized the shooting down of the unarmed reconnaissance jet on June 22 as an attack on the entire alliance.

Syrian officials have said the Turkish plane violated Syrian airspace and the military was right to shoot it down.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the downing of the plane "a deliberate act of planned hostility" for which Syria issued no warning. He also threatened to respond with force to any future incidents involving Syria.

"We have changed the rules of engagement of the Turkish armed forces; all breaches of law occurring on our borders will be met with a response," Erdogan said in a live broadcast of a meeting in Istanbul with legislators of his Justice and Development Party.

And Russia on June 26 called for Iran to be included in an international meeting on the Syria conflict in Geneva on June 30.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the statement on the sidelines of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan's King Abdullah II on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Lavrov also said he would take part in the summit. The meeting has been organized by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League negotiator for Syria. Annan has not yet officially announced the meeting.

The United States, Britain, France and China -- the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council -- have not yet said whether they would attend the Geneva meeting.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters.

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