Assad summons Syrians for war

Last updated 08:37 07/01/2013
Reuters

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mob the stage at a rally in Damascus. Lindsey Parietti reports.

No peace for Syria - refugees

RALLYING SUPPORT: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus.
Reuters
RALLYING SUPPORT: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus.

Relevant offers

Middle East

In Arab world, fresh doubts about the chances for a Palestinian state Suicide attack on Pakistani shrine kills 72, claimed by Islamic State Baghdad car bomb kills 48 as Islamic State escalates insurgency As the dust on an information war settles, the truth about the battle for Aleppo Sweden's 'feminist' government criticised for wearing headscarves in Iran Hundreds of thousands rally in Iran against Trump, chanting 'death to America' Syria rejects Amnesty's report of mass hangings as 'untrue' Six Afghan Red Cross workers killed by suspected Islamic State - officials Iran leader Ayatollah Khamenei rebuffs Donald Trump's warning on missiles Air strikes hit Syria's rebel-held Idlib, around 30 dead - residents, monitor

A defiant President Bashar al-Assad has called for national mobilisation in a "war to defend the nation", describing rebels fighting him as terrorists and agents of foreign powers with whom it was impossible to negotiate.

Appearing in an opera house in central Damascus packed with cheering supporters, the Syrian leader delivered his first speech to an audience since June last year, and his first public comments since a television interview in November.

He unveiled what he described as a peace initiative to end the 21-month-old uprising. But the proposal, including a reconciliation conference that would exclude "those who have betrayed Syria", was certain to be rejected by enemies who have already said they will not negotiate unless he leaves power.

He spoke confidently for about an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who occasionally interrupted him to shout and applaud, at one point raising their fists and chanting: "With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!"

At the end of the speech, supporters rushed to the stage, mobbing him and shouting: "God, Syria and Bashar is enough!" as a smiling Assad waved and was escorted from the hall.

"We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word," Assad said in the speech. "This war targets Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war to defend the nation."

"We meet today and suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy while security and stability are absent on the streets of our country," Assad said. "The nation is for all and we all must protect it."

The United Nations says 60,000 people have been killed in the civil war in Syria, which has brought fighting to the edge of the capital.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content