Assad gives rare speech to nation, detailing new plan to resolve Syria's civil war (VIDEO)


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad


Franck Fife

In the first such speech since June, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed the nation on Sunday, in an eagerly awaited message that will likely ignite new concern over the Syrian leaders resolve to continue the conflict.

Assad did not acknowledge the military gains of rebel forces, and also failed to address their long-held demand that he step down as a condition of the war's end, wrote the New York Times.

In the speech, which was streamed live by international media, Assad claimed that "from the womb of pain hope must be born and from the depth of suffering the most important solutions are produced," according to a transcript released by Reuters today.

The Syrian leader continued his claims that the rebels were backed by "Terrorists holding the views of al Qaeda who call themselves jihadists" and other outside influences, in an address that was marked by its defiance to bend before international pressure. 

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“Everyone who comes to Syria knows that Syria accepts advice but not orders," he said in the address.

“Who should we negotiate with — terrorists?” Assad added. “We will negotiate with their masters.”

Assad added that "We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word," that has targeted the nation "using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners."

William Hague, Britain's Foreign Secretary, deemed Assad's speech "beyond hypocritical" on Twitter, adding that "Deaths, violence and oppression engulfing #Syria are his own making, empty promises of reform fool no one"

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Fighting continues on the outskirts of Damascus, where rebels have gained ground on government forces over the weekend, spurring intensified shelling from al-Assad's troops, wrote Reuters.

Thus far, the Syrian civil war has killed 60,000, according to the United Nations, in a battle that has raged on since March of 2011, writes the New York Daily News.

Also this weekend, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad headed to ally Iran to talk with officials there, in a meeting that will be hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.