Also known as the rules of war, international humanitarian law grants parties to a conflict the right to use appropriate force to achieve their aims, and the Geneva-based group's assessment is an important reference for those parties to determine how much and what type of force they can use.
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The assessment also can form the basis for war crimes prosecutions, especially if civilians are attacked or detained enemies are abused or killed.
Anti-Assad protests (Photo: Reuters)
"We are now talking about a non-international armed conflict in the country," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said.
Previously, the ICRC had restricted its assessment of the scope of the conflict to the hotspots of Idlib, Homs and Hama, but Hassan said the organization had determined the violence has spread beyond those areas.
"Hostilities have spread to other areas of the country," Hassan told The Associated Press. "International humanitarian law applies to all areas where hostilities are taking place."
Meanwhile on Sunday, opposition fighters battled Syrian government forces in districts in the south of Damascus , some of the most intensive daytime fighting yet inside the city limits of the capital.
Activist Samir al-Shami said the fighting was under way in the poor al-Tadamon district, after a night of sustained battles in the nearby Hajar al-Aswad district.
"There is the sound of heavy gunfire. And there is smoke rising from the area. There are already some wounded and residents are trying to flee the area," he said, showing live video images of smoke visible over the skyline.
"There are also armoured vehicles heading towards the southern part of the neighbourhood."
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