With fighting rattling Damascus, a leading voice in Syria says Bashar al-Assad can't win the war. But neither side will see a victory, says Farouk al-Sharaa, who has kept a low profile in the conflict and isn't involved in running the government's efforts. Sharaa's comments came in an interview with a pro-Assad newspaper, al-Akhbar. He says the only solution is a "historic settlement" forming a national unity government, with help from neighboring countries and the UN. "Change is inevitable."
"We should be in a position defending the existence of Syria. We are not in a battle for an individual or a regime," Sharaa said. Government insiders say he has long opposed the government's military action. Meanwhile, central Damascus—which had been relatively quiet in the conflict—is hearing shelling as the military and fighters set up checkpoints. Residents say a Palestinian district has been told to evacuate, pointing to a coming government offensive, Reuters reports. It was reportedly shelled by regime jets yesterday. For their part, rebels say they're planning to take the central Hama province. "Then we will have the area between Aleppo and Hama liberated and open for us," says a spokesman.