Syria is on the verge of a genocide, warned the Italian foreign minister, Giulio Terzi, unless foreign nations undertake a “rapid intervention.”

The strategy of Damascus risks causing a genocide without rapid intervention, Terzi said, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain.

“[The Syrian leadership] is fighting for its survival with an ever more direct and brutal escalation, with terror against the civilian population and with the artificial fuelling of internal conflict.”

Terzi’s comments came in the wake of an announcement by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he appointed former agriculture minister Riyad Hijab as the new prime minister.

Syria recently expelled a number of foreign diplomats, including those from Italy, in retaliation for Western nations kicking out Syrian envoys.