Syria's president has lost control of much of the country and his regime is "collapsing, spiritually and financially", a recently defected former prime minister has said.
Riyad Hijab said the morale of Bashar al Assad's government was crumbling in the face of a 17-month uprising and armed insurgency.
Speaking to reporters in Jordan, where he fled earlier this month, Mr Hijab said Mr Assad now controls no more than 30% of Syrian territory.
Mr Hijab was not in the president's inner circle, but as the most senior civilian official to defect his departure after two months in the job came as an embarrassment to the leader.
He did not explain how he reached his estimate of the territory still controlled by the regime, whose military outnumbers and outguns the rebels.
The army is currently battling for control of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, after reclaiming areas of Damascus from insurgents.
Curbs on journalists entering Syria make it hard to work out how much of the country is in rebel hands, but most towns and cities along the country’s backbone – a road between Aleppo in the north to Deraa in the south – have been swept up in the violence.
Mr Assad is known to have lost large areas of land along Syria's northern and eastern borders.
Opposition sources say 18,000 people have been killed since the uprising began, while many others have been displaced or fled to neighbouring countries.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 45 died on Tuesday and 180 the day before.
UN emergency relief co-ordinator Baroness Amos is in Syria to discuss aid for civilians trapped or uprooted by the fighting. Efforts to arrange ceasefires to let relief convoys through have rarely worked.
Syria's regime has faced mounting criticism internationally and faced another diplomatic blow on Tuesday with the country's suspension from the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.
However, Russia and China, which have blocked any UN Security Council action on Syria, have opposed outside intervention.
One of Mr Assad's senior advisers, Bouthaina Shaaban, has flown to Beijing to meet foreign minister Yang Jiechi, the foreign ministry said.
China has been attempting to show it is open to a "balanced approach" by saying it may also invite Syrian opposition groups to the country.