Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has finally made a move toward ending the burgeoning civil war there, approving a draft of a new constitution geared toward political pluralism and scheduling a national referendum for it on Feb. 26. But even as he made political overtures, government forces continued to barrage opposition cities such as Homs, and CNN reports Syrians are bracing for "full-blown war." 

The new constitution removes a key clause that stipulates the Baath party is the "leader of state and society," and in a somewhat remarkable proposition in the increasingly war-torn country, it'll go to a national vote in just 11 days. According to CBS, "presidential sources say Assad, who met this week with the newly-established 29-member constitutional charter committee, 'wanted the people to have their say on this move, the first step on a democratic Syria,' with a simple 'yes-no' vote."

But even as the government promised a constitutional referendum, violence persisted, with CNN reporting amid explosions and machine gun fire from Homs that, "opposition activists say government forces are set on flattening every neighborhood that might hold dissidents calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." We have to wonder how seriously those activists and dissidents will take a vote offered by the government now reportedly trying to kill them.