Syria's Vice President admits neither side can win conflict
This is a big change in position for the Syrian government. There is a tiny sliver of hope that this means Assad may finally be willing to sit down and at least discuss his exit.
Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa has told a Lebanese newspaper that neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor rebels can win the war in Syria.
Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, has rarely appeared in public since the revolt erupted in March 2011.
The newspaper, al-Akhbar, released only limited excerpts on Sunday from the interview appearing in Monday's edition, and it was far from clear that Sharaa's comments represented the view of the government.
But he is still the most prominent figure to say in public that the crackdown will not win. The paper, which generally takes a pro-Assad line, said Sharaa had been speaking in Damascus.
In the first phase of the 21-month-old civil war, which has claimed at least 40,000 lives, Damascus was distant from the fighting.
Rebels have now brought the war to the capital, without succeeding in delivering a fatal blow to the government.
But nor has Assad found the military muscle to oust his opponents from the city.
In Paris, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, one of the major powers most insistent that Assad has lost his legitimacy, told RFI radio: "I think the end is nearing for Bashar al-Assad."
Meanwhile, pro-Assad Palestinians belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) clashed with anti-Assad Palestinians in a refugee camp. The PFLP's leader, Ahmad Jabril, left Damascus on Friday after it appeared that the rebels were gaining the upperhand.
The rebels are making slow progress but it is unlikely there will be a breakthrough anytime soon. Assad still controls the air and has significant armored forces. Recognition by Assad that he can't win may eventually lead to talks, but at the moment, the fighting continues.