“We are facing a war from abroad,” says Syrian President

Bashar al-Assad’s public address

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed his country and the newly-elected People’s Assembly on Sunday, criticizing “terrorists” and “conspiracy” against Syria.

“At this time, we are facing a war from abroad,” al-Assad said in his first public speech since January. “Dealing with it is different from dealing with people from inside.”

“Standing up against the conspiracy is not easy, but we will overcome the obstacles,” al-Assad said. “We have duties towards our people. Adopting reform and reinforcing its principles is not an easy mission.”

The Syrian crisis

His remarks were contradictory to what the opposition and many world leaders have said for over a year – that al-Assad’s forces, not external “terrorists,” are behind an ongoing slaughter due to their crackdown on rebels.

Only a day before the speechafter U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan said Syria is “at a turning point” and that “the specter of all-out civil war, with a worry sectarian dimension, grows by the day.”

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani suggested Annan’s peace initiative should be placed under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter as this allow the U.N. Security Council to use military force.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said a timeline for a peace plan in Syria is crucial.

The crisis in Syria began nearly 15 months ago, when a government crackdown on protesters resulted in a national anti-government uprising. The United Nations has reported that more than 9,000 people have died in Syria. Tens of thousands have been displaced.

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