Rebel gunmen stormed Syria's pro-government television station on Wednesday, killing at least seven employees just hours after President Bashar Assad declared that the country is at war.
The dawn attack on Al-Ikhbariya television's offices was "one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state," Reuters said.
"I heard a small explosion then a huge explosion and gunmen ran in," an employee of the station said, according to the news service. "They ransacked the offices and entirely destroyed the newsroom."
[Slideshow: Gunmen attack TV station]
According to an Associated Press photographer, "five portable buildings used for offices and studios had collapsed, with blood on the floor and wooden partitions still on fire. Some walls had bullet holes."
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi called the attack "a massacre against the freedom of the press."
"We live in a real state of war from all angles," Assad said in a speech broadcast on state television late Tuesday. "When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."
[Also read: Behind Syria's 'civil war']
The station is privately owned, but rebels say that Ikhbariya is little more than a "government mouthpiece."
Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a new report on Syria Wednesday, concluding that Assad's government has committed human rights violations "on an alarming scale," and that "the situation on the ground is dangerously and quickly deteriorating."
The U.N. estimates that Syrian forces have killed more than 10,000 people during the 15-month conflict.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to meet with world leaders in Geneva on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Syria.
- Politics & Government