Syria's Assad Refuses to Leave Power, Vows 'Iron Fist' Against Threats

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CommonDreams.org

Syria's Assad Refuses to Leave Power, Vows 'Iron Fist' Against Threats

Assad's forced accused of killing more than 5,000 since uprising began

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In a speech on Tuesday at Damascus University, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed foreign conspiracies for unrest in Syria, and disparaged attempts from the Arab League to intervene in the violence.

Al Jazeera has video of part of Assad's speech:  

Reuters reports that

His approach to unrest, casting it as a foreign conspiracy and countering it with violent repression and hazy promises of reform, resembled that of other Arab leaders confronted by mass protests in the past year. Three have been toppled.

Despite the persistent upheaval in Syria, in which insurgent attacks have begun to eclipse civilian demonstrations, Assad's security forces seem to retain the upper hand.

Assad remained defiant throughout the speech. Al Jazeera reports:

Striking a defiant tone, Assad urged Syrians to remain steadfast, telling them that "victory is near" and that outside forces had been unable to "find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for".

He also pledged to hit back at so-called terrorists following a pair of deadly bombings in Damascus and speading violence blamed on anti-government forces.

"There can be no let-up for terrorism -- it must be hit with an iron fist," he said. "The battle with terrorism is a battle for everyone, a national battle, not only the government's battle."

Assad, whose forces are accused of killing more than 5,000 people since the ongoing uprising against his rule began, is coming under increasing scrutiny from neighbouring countries.

That thousands of Syrians that have been locked up was notably absent from Assad's speech. The Guardian writes:

The appearance was Assad's first in public since Arab League monitors entered Syria last month, an idea he claimed was his own while attacking the pan-Arab body as a failure. There was no mention of withdrawing forces from cities or freeing thousands of prisoners, in line with an agreement between Damascus and the league.

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