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03 Jun 2012 11:22
Assad on Sunday addressed parliament for the first time since May 7 elections.
“The masks have fallen and the international role in the Syrian events is now obvious,” Assad said, adding that the elections were the perfect response “to the criminal killers and those who finance them”.
The embattled leader also paid tribute to civilian and military “martyrs” of the violence in Syria, saying their blood was not shed in vain.
“We are not facing a political problem but a project to destroy the country,” Assad said.
He added that there would be “no dialogue” with the opposition “seeking foreign intervention”.
Referring to the May 7 elections, he said: “Syria is open to all Syrians regardless of their views but terrorism can not be part of the political process and we must fight against terrorism to heal the nation.”
The Syrian leader stressed that “national security is a red line” and that Syria has “paid dearly until now”.
In a discernable reference to the Arab Spring that has swept the region, Assad asserted that: “The Syrian people are intelligent and do not blindly imitate what happens elsewhere.”
He added that the “millions” who marched in support of Assad “understood” what the country really needs.
The speech comes after Arab leaders called on the United Nations to act to stop bloodshed that has persisted for nearly 15 months despite a UN-backed peace plan that includes the deployment of nearly 300 observers.
The plan was drawn up by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who on Saturday singled out Assad and his regime as the key to resolving the conflict as he warned of the spectre of all-out sectarian warfare.
Since the so-called ceasefire began on April 12, as many as 2,300 people have been killed out of the more than 13,400 to have died in Syria since the uprising against Assad’s regime began in March 2011. – Sapa-AFP
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