By Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Bashar al-Assad is "increasingly disconnected from reality," according to a senior Obama administration official in dismissing assertions by the Syrian president that the situation in his violence-torn country is improving.
The White House added that Assad's comments only showed "how delusional" the embattled leader has become.
"Only if 'better' means more Syrian people - innocent Syrian people – are dying at the hands of his soldiers; only 'better' if it means that his thugs are moving through the streets of various cities and rounding people up," presidential spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
The Obama administration sentiment came as Human Rights Watch reported that Syrian forces had bombed and fired artillery at 10 bakeries in Aleppo province, killing and wounding dozens of civilians.
"It's appalling and disgusting," said the senior official, who was not authorized to comment on the record.
"We have instances of the Syrian regime firing on people who are clearly non-combatants, who are clearly lined up buying food to feed their families, their children, and they're literally being attacked and massacred standing in bread lines. We've seen reports of that and we find it utterly abhorrent and people will be held to account," the official said.
Despite Assad's statement that his regime eventually would restore the country to what it was before the conflict began 18 months ago, the official said the opposition now controls larger and larger areas in Syria's north and east and that Assad is trying to hold onto the two main cities of Aleppo and Damascus.
"The people's will has not been broken," the official said.
Syrians continued to flee the fighting, with an estimated 200,000 now taking refuge in neighboring countries. Within Syria 1.5 million people have been displaced and 2.5 million are in need of urgent assistance, according to the United Nations.
Britain and France on Thursday called for urgent contributions from all nations to the U.N. relief fund, which is 50 percent funded.
The United States is providing $82 million in humanitarian assistance for Syrians needing clothing and shelter, regardless of their loyalties in the conflict, according to the State Department. The United States is also training the Syrian opposition on governance as more areas slip from regime control.
Another $25 million is being provided to the opposition as non-lethal support, providing assistance like radios and communication equipment, medical supplies and training.
At the United Nations, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Thursday that Britain would increase aid for Syrian refugees to the equivalent of more than $48 million. The aid will go toward medical supplies inside Syria and to help women refugees in Jordan who have been victims of sexual violence in conflict.
"We call on other nations to increase their funding - and on (U.N.) Security Council members to set a strong lead," he said. "And to that end, the UK and France will propose a meeting of development ministers with U.N. agencies in the coming weeks, to encourage increased donations."
But when it comes to using military power to protect refugees, western nations are more cautious. Turkey has suggested that the West create safe zones within Syria. But the United States is calling for increased international help for neighboring countries, like Turkey, to assist refugees within those countries' borders.
Hague concurred: "We are ruling nothing out and we have contingency planning for a wide range of scenarios," he said in New York. "We don't generally go into what all that contingency planning is, but we also have to be clear that anything like a safe zone requires military intervention and that, of course, is something that has to be weighed very carefully and, of course, it is not something to which the United Nations Security Council has assented, or would be likely to assent to, in current circumstances."
At a meeting of non-aligned nations in Tehran, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsy assailed Iran's support of the Assad government, that regime "oppressive" and claiming that it "had lost legitimacy."
The U.S official said Morsy's strong comments made the Iranians "very uncomfortable" and it "was a good thing that he did this."
"They (Iran) wanted to roll out everything as 'business is normal' and they had to hear some very unpleasant messages because some of this stuff is nasty. I mean, they are actively supporting violent repression and they have a very active hand in it."