Syrian President Bashar al-Assad broke his silence Wednesday to tell the Syrian army to step up its game against "internal agents." Unlike former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Assad has rarely spoken about the conflict raging in his country. When he does, despite the violence and turmoil on the streets, he often sounds calm, cool and collected.
1. March 30, 2011: President Bashar al-Assad’s made a speech to the Syrian Parliament following an early wave of demonstrations in Syria.
"As for you, children of this great nation, your love for your country, which you express day after day and which is clearer than ever at times of crisis, and which you particularly expressed yesterday through your unprecedented mass demonstrations throughout the country, gives me more confidence and determination."
Later, Assad praised the Syrian people for their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their president and promised to remain a "faithful brother."
2. June 2011: Assad delivered a speech at Damascus University.
"There are those who give them the impression that the state will exact revenge. I affirm that that is not true. The army is there for security."
3. November 2011: Assad reiterated that it was justified punishment, not cruelty, that his government was after.
"We, as a state, do not have a policy to be cruel with citizens," Assad told the Sunday Times. "The important thing is to look for the wrongdoers and hold them responsible for their actions." He later added, "The conflict will continue, and the pressure to subjugate Syria will continue," he told the newspaper. "Syria will not bow down."
4. December 2011: Assad told ABC News’s Barbara Walters in an interview.
“I did my best to protect the people,” he said. “I cannot feel guilty when you do your best. You feel sorry for the lives that have been lost. But you don’t feel guilty when you don’t kill people. So it’s not about guilty.”
(Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)(Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)
5. June 2012: In his first address to Parliament since January, Assad blamed foreign terrorist plots for the violent massacre that occurred in Houla, Syria.
"What happened in Houla and elsewhere (in Syria) are brutal massacres which even monsters would not have carried out," he said in the televised address. "If we don't feel the pain that squeezes our hearts, as I felt it, for the cruel scenes – especially the children – then we are not human beings."
Later in the same speech, Mr. Assad used a rather bloody metaphor to explain how his government would not be lenient in its crackdown on the opposition:
"When a surgeon in an operating room ... cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him, 'Your hands are stained with blood?' Or do we thank him for saving the patient?"
6. August 2012: Most recently, Assad tried to rally his troops.
"In the war in which the country is embroiled and the battle against criminal and terrorist gangs, the army has proven its mettle." He continued, "I have great confidence in you and the masses see you as a source of pride and honor ... and a defender of just causes."
(Paul J. Richards/AFP/GettyImages)
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