UN official: Assad regime could crumble soon

The U.N.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, waves to his supporters after he attended the prayer of Eid Al Adha, at the al-Nour Mosque in the northern town of Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Syrians in the restive region of Homs performed special prayers for a major Muslim holiday to the sound of explosions and gunfire as government troops pushed forward their assault on the area, killing at least several people Sunday, residents and activists said. (AP Photo/SANA) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The U.N.'s outgoing chief observer in Syria said Friday it's just a matter of time before President Bashar Assad's regime crumbles, but that the violence of the civil war could worsen if Syria uses the full force of its military.

Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, whose three-month mission in Damascus ended last week, also said the situation in Syria is likely to remain unstable even if Assad's government steps down.

"It's impossible to imagine a future in Syria where the current people in power remain in power. So in that view, it's just a matter of time before this regime collapses. And that is how it's supposed to be," Mood told a news conference in Oslo. That could happen, he said, if more members of the military simultaneously leave the ranks of the government to join the opposition.

But Mood also said that if Assad's regime collapses, it might not be the end of Syria's many problems. "That might not be the start of a dialogue. That could easily be the start of a situation that is way worse," he said.

Since last week, Syrian rebels have made a run on the country's two largest cities, Aleppo and Damascus. Regime forces have responded with overwhelming firepower, ushering in some of the most serious violence the cities have seen in 17 months of conflict.

Mood warned that Assad's regime still has great military muscle left to apply in the conflict and that the situation could very well carry on for months or even years.

"The government has large military forces that still haven't been used to the full. Even if we in the past few weeks have seen combat helicopters and planes, there is still much (of that) left," he said, according to NTB, the Norwegian national news agency. "When it comes to violence, they have no sense of understanding for what we call proportionality."

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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