The former Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, who defected on July 11, told the BBC on Tuesday that President Assad could use chemical weapons against opposition forces to stay in power.
"Bashar al-Assad will not hesitate to use chemical weapons against opposition forces and may have already deployed them," Fares said.
"There is information, unconfirmed information of course, that chemical weapons have been used partially in the city of Homs," Syria's ex-ambassador to Iraq told the BBC.
"It is absolutely sure that this government will fall in a short time," he stressed.
Fares was dismissive of international envoy Kofi Annan's current visit to Russia, saying success there was "impossible."
"Several months have passed and... the regime hasn't implemented a single article of (Kofi Annan's) plan," he said.
On the ground in Damascus, heavy fighting raged in the heart of the city, hitherto regarded as an impregnable bastion of power. The Free Syrian Army claim control of two districts: Midane and Tadamoun, in the south and east of the Syrian capital. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Monday that tanks and troop carriers were deployed for the first time in Midane. Local residents reported the presence of snipers on the roofs.
The Local Coordination Committees reported that the regime forces tried to enter Midane but the Free Syrian Army fighters have stopped them. So the soldiers have stepped up the bombing.
On Tuesday, bursts of automatic weapons were heard in the heart of Damascus, near the Sabeh Bahrat square, eyewitnesse told Alarabiya news. According to him, "members of the regime forces, armed with Kalashnikovs, ran across this place" where the headquarters of the Central Bank are located. Other shots were also heard in Baghdad street.
According to Syrian opposition website, Free Syrian Army announced the launch of an extensive operation in Damascus vowing the revolt against the regime would experience a turning point, with heavy fighting in the Syrian capital.
"The volcano and earthquake of Damascus" that's the name the Syrian rebels have given to their "large" operation. The Free Syrian Army plan to systematically deal with all security checkpoints in the country, cutting the main roads in order to paralyze the military regime and call for the defection of more officers and soldiers.
This is the first strategic step to bring Syria into a state of complete and total civil disobedience, said a statement signed by the Free Syrian Army's Joint Command.
Repression and fighting left 149 dead Monday, including 82 civilians, 41 soldiers and 26 rebels, according to SOHR.
In the meantime, Assad regime media said little about the clashes in Damascus as the state news agency said the army was hunting an "armed terrorist group" in one of the neighborhoods. The regime blames the uprising on outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups acting out a foreign conspiracy to weaken the country.
More as it becomes available.