Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the country is engaged in a “real war” with outside forces and defended political reforms implemented by his government in an address to the parliament in Damascus.
Speaking on Sunday for the first time since last month’s parliamentary elections , Assad said that he would not be lenient on those he blamed for violence in the country.
“We have to fight terrorism for the country to heal,” Assad said. “We will not be lenient. We will be forgiving only for those who renounce terrorism.”
Assad’s remarks defied mounting international condemnation of his regime’s crackdown on the opposition. He blamed the crisis on outside forces and said the country was passing through its most critical stage since the end of colonialism.
“The masks have fallen and the international role in the Syrian events is now obvious,” Assad said, adding that the elections had been the perfect response “to the criminal killers and those who finance them”.
Assad admitted the country’s unrest had taken a “bloody toll” and exhausted assets, but said outside forces were responsible.
“Terrorism has undermined us all,” he said. “It is a real war waged from outside and dealing with a war is different to dealing with the grievances of Syrian citizens.”
He added that there would be “no dialogue” with opposition factions “seeking foreign intervention”.
In the speech, Assad blamed terrorists for the recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, which opposition activists said was committed by pro-government forces.
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At least 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were slaughtered in killings that began on May 25 and continued the next day, triggering international outrage.(more of the article)