UK & World News
Syrian President Assad Gives Live TV Address
Syria's president has blamed Islamic extremists and "outside forces" for orchestrating the conflict in his country in a rare public address to the nation.
The embattled leader, who appeared before cheering crowds at an opera house in the capital Damascus, struck a defiant tone and was frequently interrupted by supporters chanting: "With our soul with our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you O Bashar."
With insurgents fighting their way closer to the seat of his power, President Bashar al Assad spoke about the latest developments and "suffering" in Syria.
He said the conflict was not between the state and opposition, but the "nation and its enemies".
"We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word," he said.
"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.
"The nation is for all, and we must all protect it," he said to rapturous applause inside a packed House of Arts and Culture.
"There are those who seek to partition Syria and weaken it. But Syria is stronger ... and will remain sovereign ... and this is what upsets the West."
Mr Assad called for a "full national mobilisation" to fight against the rebels, whom he branded al Qaeda "terrorists" and "murderous criminals".
While outlining proposals for what he described as a peace plan including a new constitution and amnesty, there was no suggestion of him relinquishing his power.
He asserted the government and army would continue military operations against opposition groups.
Mr Assad said change must come through constitutional means and appealed for dialogue once the fighting had ended.
"Regional and international countries must stop funding the armed men to allow those displaced to return to their homes ... right after that our military operations will cease," he said.
"We will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the West."
They were his first public comments since he dismissed suggestions that he might go into exile to end the civil war, telling Russian television in November that he would "live and die" in Syria.
The United Sates dismissed Mr Assad's remarks as "detatched from reality".
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the speech was "yet another attempt by the regime to cling to power and does nothing to advance the Syrian people's goal of a political transition".
According to Sky sources, the internet in Damascus was shut down during his address - at the end of which Mr Assad needed to be ushered away by security officials when he appeared to be mobbed by jubilant supporters.
The hour-long live broadcast came as fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces continued to rage across the country.
Mr Assad's appeals for a reconciliation are likely to be rejected by opposition forces and rebels, who insist he must step down.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague dismissed the calls "empty promises".
Responding to the address, he tweeted: "#AssadSpeech beyond hypocritical. Deaths, violence and oppression engulfing #Syria are his own making, empty promises of reform fool no one."
The European Union called on Mr Assad to step down, while the opposition coalition in Syria rejected the address.
Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay said: "Whatever the support he had inside Damascus there, it's not reflected nationally.
"There are a huge number of people now who obviously want him to leave. As he said, they are in a midst of a very nasty war, and there is nothing to indicate, especially after this speech, that's going to change at all."
The 21-month uprising against Assad has become a civil war that the United Nations says has killed 60,000 people.
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what do you think?
Why does Al-Assad remind me of Inspector Blakey from 'On the buses'? "I'm gonna get you Butler!" (For Butler substitute Free Syrian Army)
Never realised so many people on orange world support Al-Assad. . . Or maybe they dont like Blakey?
You will see the ultimate of carnage in that country when he finally does go.
Don't believe western government 's lies about Assad. He and part of the Syrian population are Alawites, while the rebels are sunni and regard the alawites as heretics. If Assad goes, they all know the alawite population will get creamed.
After the NATO backed slaughter of Gaddafi I doubt if any other American target for removal will give up without a fight. Having seen a few rebel/terrorist attrocities posted on the web, I cannot understand why our Foreign Secretary Hague backs these creatures in the same way as he backed the Al Qaeda supporters in Libya, even after one of their leaders stated on the Newsnight programme to Jeremy Paxman that " Yes, our young men do travel abroad to fight the invaders" meaning British and American troops. So we have reached the lunatic point where British politicians are aiding the same people that kill British troops, utter madness.
If Assad wants to end the carnage he has created , he only has to stand down.
William Hague "empty promises" Pot calling the kettle black. Lost count of the number of empty promises regarding EU referendums
Looks like the Orangeers are behind Assad.
No support for the terrorist army. Remember the postal workers. The only freedom these al Qaida sympathisers want is the freedom to behead anyone who disagrees with their version of religion.
Lorgar, not every Brit is like you... some may apply their mind in a different way ... similarly the rebels are nothing but a bunch of different groups having no allegiance to anyone... right now they are just fighting to oust Assad ... some pigs/devils may have infiltrated their ranks and carried out that ruthless/mindless act ... because it's gory ... the way people are thrown ... and if you look at the video carefully ... there's no resistance offered by the victims ... though they are bound, yet there are no signs of resistance ... it seems the pigs must have sedated/drugged the men before throwing them off
Assad may be a tin pot dictator but he is their dictator his only crime is not to fall in line with the other Dictators buying American/ E.U ARMS . The truth and credibility is more with Assad not our corrupt Governments who back paid terrorists ( the same one`s killing our soldiers) .Stop sending money and arms to terrorists in Syria.
Assad doesn't look like an al-qaeda/taliban guy... he dresses in suits... drinks wine... socialises ... doubt whether he prays five times a day ... so everything about his life-style is western ... nothing about him seems Islamic... whereas the guys he's fighting with ... they are shown to be sporting beard... praying in every 2nd picture that comes out of Syria ... there maybe religious diversity in Syria ... and it was since years and years ... however right now the country is in the midst of chaos ... this is one problem which I think can be sorted if a referendum is held in Syria whether how many syrians wants Assad ... such intelligent people across the world ... no one wants innocent blood to be shed ... yet blood is being shed! There are some questions... Some are easy to understand... Is the West in the making of an Frankenstein? or Is Assad is really that bad? or Are the rebels on the right path? All this bloodshed? Whom does it suit? Rather, whom does the upheaval in Syria suit? Does it suit someone within or outside of Syria? *** Wouldn't like to call either the government or the rebels bad; coz I'm don't know for nothing what's the truth? My side of the story maybe different from someone else' side of the story!