Assad will deliver rare public address

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to stay in his country despite urging from many in the West to yield power.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to stay in his country despite urging from many in the West to yield power. (SANA, File)

The Syrian president will speak about recent events in his first national appearance since June.

Posted: January 07, 2013

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was to deliver a speech Sunday in a rare address to the nation, state media said, as rebels fighting to topple his regime pressed ahead with an offensive on the capital.

The official SANA news agency said in a brief statement Saturday that Assad would speak about the latest developments in Syria. The speech would be Assad's first since June, delivered amid intense fighting between government troops and rebels on the outskirts of Damascus.

Assad has rarely spoken in public since the uprising against him began in March 2011. In each of his previous speeches and interviews, the president has dug in his heels even as Western powers have moved to boost the opposition in Syria's civil war.

In his last public comments, Assad vowed in an interview with Russia Today on Nov. 8 that he would "live and die in Syria."

Fighting has raged for weeks in the neighborhoods and towns around Damascus that have been opposition strongholds since the revolt began. The uprising started with peaceful protests but grew into a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people, according to a recent U.N. estimate.

The rebels are trying to push through the government's heavy defenses in Damascus, prompting the regime to unleash a withering assault on the suburbs that has included intense barrages by artillery and warplanes.

Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis have failed so far to stem the bloodshed, although the international community keeps pushing for a peaceful settlement.

On Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart in Riyadh that there should be an immediate end to the bloodshed in Syria and called for a peaceful political transition.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have called on Assad to step down, and Riyadh has also been an outspoken supporter of the rebels.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|