Assad Praises Army for Hama Slaughter
Syria's president Bashar Assad on Monday praised troops for "foiling enemies" during the Ramadan Eve slaughter of at least 84 protesters in the city of Hama, the state-run Sana News Agency reported.
In a speech marking the 66th anniversary of the Syrian army's formation, Sana quoted the embattled Assad who said the military "proved its loyalty to its people, country and creed."
"Its efforts and sacrifices will be admired," Assad said, adding "these sacrifices succeeded in foiling the enemies of the country and ending sedition, preserving Syria."
Assad earlier told the People's Army Magazine his regime is capable of foiling any conspiracy to undermine its national unity.
“Syria is capable of foiling the new chapter in the conspiracy through the awareness of its people and national unity," Assad said.
"Conspiracies make us stronger, and pressure causes it to adhere more to our standards and rights that cannot be liquidated or marginalized," he added.
Assad's regime has blamed the five-month uprising in Syria on “armed gangs” working for some Arab and Western countries.
“The army was a model of commitment to the nation’s causes and a defender of its rights, proving to be an impregnable fortress foiling the dreams and suspect plans of enemies,” Assad insisted.
Assad, echoing recent statements by ally Mahmaoud Ahmadinijad of Iran, said there was a plot to fragment the nation and the region, but “the people who undertook the conspiracy forgot that Syria has unique characteristics that make it immune to conspiracies.”
“This vicious attack won’t fare any better than the previous ones, all of Syria’s honest people are confident that we will emerge from the crisis more powerful, more present and more effective regionally and internationally,” he said.
Assad reiterated his stance that peace in the region “doesn’t mean relinquishing a speck of soil or a drop of water," a reference to the Golan Heights lost to Israel in 1967.
“We will remain free in our national decision-making and sovereign in our international relations and our resistant course to achieve just and comprehensive peace according to international legitimacy resolutions that stipulate for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands up to the June 4th, 1967 line,” he said.
Many regional analysts believe Assad, supported by Hizbullah, may seek conflict with Israel as a means of shifting international attention away form his regime's bloody crackdown.
Some 1,600 civilians have been killed by Assad gunmen to date.