End drawing close for Syria's Assad: German spy chief

BERLIN Sat Dec 8, 2012 12:09pm EST

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government is its final stages and will be unable to survive as more parts of the country slip from his control, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency (BND) said.

"Armed rebels are co-ordinating better, which is making their fight against Assad more effective," Gerhard Schindler told the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung newspaper, in an interview made public on Saturday.

"Assad's regime will not survive."

Rebels fighting to topple Assad declared Damascus International Airport a battle zone on Friday, while Moscow and Washington both sounded downbeat about the prospects of a diplomatic push to end the conflict after talks.

Fighting around the capital city has intensified over the past week, and Western officials have begun speaking about faster change on the ground in a 20-month-old conflict that has killed 40,000 people.

"Evidence is mounting that the regime in Damascus is now in its final phase," Schindler said.

Although neither Assad nor the rebels had been able to take the upper hand, Assad was losing control of more and more parts of the country, and was focusing his energy on defending Damascus, key military sites and airports, Schindler added.

Schindler's comments echoed remarks made yesterday by U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who was withdrawn last year.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; editing by Jason Webb)

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