6 Ocak 2013 Pazar


Syria's President Bashar al-Assad delivers rare public speech
Assad tells supporters in first public appearance since November that he will have 'no dialogue with a puppet made by the west'

President Bashar al-Assad has made his first public appearance since November, with a speech before supporters at an opera house in Damascus.

Fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces raged across the country hours before the speech on Sunday, in which Assad announced what he described as a peace plan.

Assad called for a reconciliation conference with "those who have not betrayed Syria" to be followed by the formation of a new government and amnesty.

"The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming [the opposition], an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders. We will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the west," he said.

In an earlier part of the speech he called for a "full national mobilisation" to fight against rebels he described as al-Qaida terrorists.

In Assad's last previous public appearance, a Russian television interview in November, he pledged to stay in Syria and fight to the death if necessary. His last public speech was in June.

A United Nations report estimates that 60,000 people have died since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that rebels clashed with troops in the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising.

Violence also raged in opposition strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus, which rebels are using as bases to assail the government's heavy defences in the capital.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, the prime minister, David Cameron, said: "My message to Assad is that he should go. He has the most phenomenal amount of blood on his hands."

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