The international peace envoy for Syria says the situation in the country was deteriorating sharply but a solution was still possible under the terms of a peace plan agreed in Geneva in June.
Lakhdar Brahimi said on Sunday the state would collapse without a solution, reiterating warnings that the country could turn into "hell" or a new Somalia.
"I say that the solution must be this year: 2013, and, God willing, before the second anniversary of this crisis," Lakhdar Brahimi said at a news conference at the Arab League in Cairo, referring to the start of the uprising in March 2011.
"A solution is still possible but is getting more complicated every day," he added. "We have a proposal and I believe this proposal is adopted by the international community."
Brahimi is the joint UN-Arab League envoy charged with trying to mediate an end to a conflict that has killed at least
"The situation in Syria is bad, very, very bad, and it is getting worse and the pace of deterioration is increasing," he said.
"People are talking about Syria being split into a number of small states ... this is not what will happen, what will happen
is Somalisation, war lords," he said.
Somalia has been without effective central government since civil war broke out there in 1991.
Brahimi, referring to the Geneva plan, said: "There are sound foundations to build a peace process through which the
Syrians themselves can end the war and fighting and to build the future."
The plan included a ceasefire, the formation of a government and steps towards elections, either for a new president, or a
But it left the fate of President al-Assad unclear although the Syrian opposition and foreign goverments who back them insist he must go.
Brahimi's comments came a day after Turkey's prime minister said the conflict could be coming to an end very soon, according to local media.
Recep Teyyip Erdogan said: "God willing, an administration which would meet the demands of the Syrian people will come to power in the shortest time possible."
Regime forces on Sunday pressed a fierce offensive in Homs after overrunning a key neighbourhood of the central city,
according to a watchdog, which also listed 23 children killed in violence across Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army, after seizing the Deir Baalbeh district in fighting on Saturday which left dozens dead, fired off barrages of rockets into surrounding rebel-held neighbourhoods on Sunday as it sought to capitalise on its victory.
Troops also bombarded the nearby opposition stronghold of Rastan.
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria
The Britain-based Observatory, which gathers its information from a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals, said the final death toll from Saturday's clashes had not been finalised due to communications difficulties in the area.
A video released by the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists, showed the bodies of nine male victims from Deir Baalbeh lying on the ground, their faces bloody and mutilated.
The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.
Near the capital on Sunday, loyalist troops carried out air raids on towns along the eastern outlying belt and on Daraya in the southwest, while fighting between rebels and the army erupted in the northeastern and southwestern suburbs.
Activists said 13 children were among the victims of bombardments in and around Damascus on Saturday, while 10 children were killed in air strikes across Aleppo province, including on rebel-held Aazaz near the Turkish border.
Analysts say the surge in air strikes by Syrian forces are a desperate attempt by Assad's regime to reverse rampant gains by rebel fighters, especially in the north of the country.