Conflict & Justice

Syria's president in rare speech


A Syrian woman holds up a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as she follows his speech on television at a cafe in Damascus today.



Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, made his first televised speech since June, blaming a foreign conspiracy for the 10-month uprising against his regime. 

Assad vowed to respond to the "terrorists" with an "iron fist", and refused to step down in the speech he reportedly gave from Damascus University, in the Syrian capital. But he also said he welcomed the idea of expanding the government to include "all political forces", Reuters reports. Assad even floated the idea of a referendum on a new constitution.  

But opposition figures said it was unlikely Assad was ready for real reforms. Some 5,000 people have been killed in his regime's crackdown on protestors, including when observers from the Arab League were in Syria to monitor Assad's implemenation of an Arab League peace initative

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