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Syria, 'on the Verge of Collapse'

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Nearly a year and a half after Syria's uprising began back in the Arab Spring, it has devolved into a violent civil war with fractious rebel forces continuing their efforts to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power. Earlier today, Riad Hijab, Syria's Prime Minister who defected to the opposition last week, held a press conference, saying "the regime is on the verge of collapse morally and economically." Activists now claim more than 20,000 have been killed in the conflict since early 2011, and the violence continues to spread to the cities of Damascus and Aleppo. [39 photos]

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A Free Syrian Army fighter carries an RPG launcher during clashes with Syrian troops near Idlib, Syria, on June 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Free Syrian Army fighter carries an RPG launcher during clashes with Syrian troops near Idlib, Syria, on June 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A man looks at destroyed building from Syrian forces shelling in Khaldiyeh, Homs, Syria, on August 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN) #
Defected Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab speaks during a news conference in Amman, on August 14, 2012. Hijab referred to President Bashar al-Assad's government as an "enemy of God", in his first public appearance since defecting from the government. (Reuters/Majed Jaber) #
Demonstrators hold opposition flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Kfr Suseh area of Damascus, on July 2, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter observes a street with a pair of binoculars in Aleppo, on August 13, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on July 22, 2012, purports to show a fireball rising above Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN) #
A man looks at a destroyed Syrian Army tank in Azaz, some 47 km (29 miles) north of Aleppo, on August 3, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
A body of a boy, who was killed by a recent Syrian Air force air strike, in the rubble of a house in the village of Tel Rafat, about 37 km north of Aleppo, on August 8, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
A Syrian Air Force fighter plane fires a rocket during an air strike on the village of Tel Rafat, north of Aleppo, on August 9, 2012. Syrian troops and rebels fought over the country's biggest city Aleppo as President Bashar al-Assad's key foreign backer Iran gathered ministers from like-minded states for talks about how to end the conflict. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
Syrians watch TV in an underground shelter in Al-Bueda, 12 kms from the flashpoint city of Homs, on July 24, 2012. Residents have built their own shelters underneath their houses and supplied them with electricity to take cover from the daily violence as fighting intensifies between government forces and rebels. (Antonio Pampliega/AFP/Getty Images) #
Members of Free Syrian Army, who defected from the regular army, in Kafranbel, near Idlib, Syria, on July 28, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
A Syrian man holds shrapnel he picked from a wall of a damaged house in town of Atareb on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, on August 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) #
Opposition fighters prepare home-made firebombs in the northern Syrian city of of Aleppo where rebel forces overran the Shaar district police station, on July 25, 2012. Battles raged through the night in several districts of Syria's second largest city to which the regime had rushed reinforcement, after rebels launched an all-out assault for control of the country's commercial hub on July 20. (Pierre Torres/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Syrian man carries badly wounded five-year-old Mohammed Amumrej after he was hurt during shelling by Syrian government forces in the center of Syria's restive northern city of Aleppo late on July 25, 2012. The boy later died. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
Damaged buildings in Juret al-Shayah in Homs, on July 16, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
British student Mohammad Qadi Riha, after an interview with Reuters on a main street in Hatay, on July 6, 2012. Motivated by his mother's tales of atrocities in her homeland three decades ago, 22-year old Qadi Riha said he set off from London to Syria to join the armed resistance against President Bashar al-Assad. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
Residents pray over the bodies of Syrians who they say are opposition activists killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during a mass funeral along a street in Jdeidet Artouz near Damascus, on August 1, 2012. (Reuters/Hussam Chamy) #
A member of the Free Syrian Army stands next to an opposition flag on top of a damaged building in Al-Rasten, near Homs, on July 27, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his sniper rifle in Aleppo, on August 14, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
This image made from amateur video released by R.Y.E. Syria and accessed Monday August 13, 2012, purports to show a Syrian plane downed over the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, Syria, on August 13, 2012. Activists released the video which they claim shows a government Soviet-made MiG warplane catching fire apparently after it was hit by ground fire while Syrian state-run media said Monday a pilot ejected from a warplane on a training mission after technical failure. (AP Photo/R.Y.E. Syria) #
This image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show Syrian Pilot Colonel Rafik Mohammed Suleiman being interrogated by a rebel officer after his Soviet-made MiG warplane was apparently hit by ground fire over Deir el-Zour province, on August 13, 2012. If the rebel claim of the downing proves true, it could mark a significant jump in their ability to combat widening air attacks from President Bashar Assad's forces. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network) #
War-damaged buildings in Juret al-Shayah in Homs, on July 19, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
A Syrian boy looks at the bodies of nine Syrians in the back of a truck after they were found dead in an open field and taken to the town of Anadan, Syria, on August 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) #
A Syrian man burns the remains of his damaged belongings in the town of Atareb in northern Aleppo province, on July 2, 2012. The majority of residents in Atareb have fled the town due to heavy fighting between Syrian forces and rebels for the past few months. The last convoy of Syrian army has reportedly left the town few days ago and residents are slowly returning to claim their possessions and check their homes. (LO/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter rests in a school in central Aleppo, on August 9, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
A wall painted with a message reading "You will not displace our hearts" in a street in the al-Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs, on July 17, 2012. (Reuters/Yazen Homsy) #
Rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters capture two policemen who the FSA allege are "Shabiha" or pro-regime militiamen, on July 31, 2012, as the rebels overran a police station in Aleppo. A watchdog said that rebels killed 40 officers and seized three police stations during the pivotal battle for the commercial capital. (Emin Ozmen/AFP/Getty Images) #
An injured Syrian refugee rests on his bed as he undergoes rehabilitation at a post-traumatic care center directed by Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations in Hatay province, on August 13, 2012. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his weapon during clashes with Syrian troops near Idlib, Syria, on June 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter reacts after hearing news that his commander had been killed by tank shell in Aleppo, on August 14, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
Smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, on July 18, 2012. A bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting in Damascus, killing three top regime officials -- including President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law -- in the harshest blow to Syria's ruling family dynasty and the rebels' boldest attack in the country's civil war. Syrian state-run TV said the blast came during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials in Damascus, which has seen four straight days of clashes between rebels and government troops. (AP Photo) #
A girl wounded by shelling is treated at a makeshift hospital in Houla near Homs, on July 17, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network) #
A tank operated by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, seen through the scope of a weapon belonging to a member of the Free Syrian Army in the Qusseer neighborhood of Homs, on July 15, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network/Handout) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter screams in pain after his leg was injured by shrapnel from a shell fired from a Syrian Army tank in the Salaheddine neighborhood of central Aleppo, on August 7, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
Damaged buildings in Juret al-Shayah in Homs, on July 3, 2012. (Reuters/Khaled Tellawi/Shaam News Network) #
Suleiman El Leban, 21, an injured Syrian refugee, rests on his bed as he undergoes rehabilitation at a post-traumatic care center in Hatay province, on August 13, 2012. According to El Leban's account, he was injured during a Syrian Army helicopter attack on his convoy near Hama as they were on their way to flee to Turkey, officials said. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
A destroyed gas station on a main road leading to Azaz, north Syria, on July 25, 2012. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
Mahmoud, a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of Syria, rests in a field hospital after he was found with three gunshot wounds on August 6, 2012, in the town of Anadan on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. Mahmoud, who would give only one name, described being the only survivor of a massacre in which he and 10 other men were blindfolded, beaten and sprayed with bullets. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) #
A Free Syrian Army sniper looks through the sight of his rifle inside a house in Aleppo, on August 13, 2012. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #

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