Spiral of violence, division continues in Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech at Damascus University, in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.

The Syrian government, under international pressure, allowed just a handful of foreign reporters into the country. But sadly this very welcome initiative began with a tragedy.

A mortar attack on civilians in Homs killed eight Syrian residents of the neighborhood and one French journalist.

Just 20 minutes earlier, a group of CBS News journalists including Elizabeth Palmer were talking to some of the victims on a tour of Homs - the epicenter of the uprising - organized by the Syrian government

Residents told Palmer there are attacks every day and in a hospital a few steps away lay the proof.

A rare look inside Syria, under Assad's thumb

Government minders wouldn't let Palmer's crew out of their sights to investigate, so getting the truth behind who's responsible for the violence is complicated.

The uprising that began 10 months ago as massive peaceful protests for more democracy is degenerating into something that looks like civil war.

Activists have filmed the Syrian army soldiers shooting down opposition protestors. But some opposition groups now have heavy weapons and are attacking the army.

In the Homs military hospital, 25 wounded soldiers on average arrive every day.

In the capital Damascus Wednesday, a defiant president Bashar al Assad greeted adoring supporters - and blamed all the violence on a foreign plot.

His solution: what he called an iron fist.

It's not clear what that means. There are areas in Syria that are now under armed opposition control. This is already a divided country - full of guns, fear and anger.

Watch Palmer's full report above.