This, of course, is why the overwhelming majority of the casualties in the Syrian conflict are civilians. Indeed, the way Assad's forces have been behaving suggests strongly that they are just as interested in terrorizing the people into submission as they are in beating the rebels militarily. Meanwhile, Assad refuses to recognize that anything like an opposition exists. Anyone who's against his government is, to quote his speech before the Syrian parliament earlier this year, "a criminal, a mercenary, or [the accessories of] a plan led by frenzied colonizers and financed by sick rulers."
At the beginning of the American Civil War as well as at its end, Lincoln refused to condemn the people of the South for disagreeing with him. Unlike Assad, Lincoln didn't regard his political opponents as his personal enemies; it wasn't his personal rule he was defending, but rather the idea of a government supported by its people. He regarded southerners, after all, as fellow citizens of the United States. After the end of the war Lincoln intervened to prevent a harsh military occupation of the southern states -- a reflection of his words in the First Inaugural: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." I doubt very much that Syrians will ever have the chance to hear similar eloquence from Assad. His words betray his motives.