Assad to Give Speech, May Offer a 'Peace Plan'
Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad is to make a rare speech Sunday as violence rages in a civil war the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people, AFP reported.
"President Bashar al-Assad will deliver a speech on Sunday morning on the latest developments in Syria and the region," the report quoted Syria's official SANA news agency having said late on Saturday. It was not specified what time he will speak.
Assad last spoke on June 3 when he addressed parliament in Damascus.
In past speeches he has always referred to the rebels as "terrorists" financed from abroad.
The pro-Syrian Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, said on Saturday Assad was ready to offer a "solution" to the conflict.
Citing anonymous sources, the paper said Assad may submit a five-point plan that would not preclude him from contesting the next presidential election when his current term ends in 2014.
The plan also provides a ceasefire, allowing international observers to monitor its application, a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, forming a national government and holding free elections for a new parliament, the Lebanese newspaper said.
During his latest visit to Damascus, UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had mentioned a plan, based on the Geneva declaration, that talked of a ceasefire, forming a government and holding parliamentary and presidential polls.
The Geneva plan put forward last June would see a transitional government in place, but it does not refer to Assad going -- a condition the opposition insists on.
The Syrian authorities have not responded directly to Brahimi's plan, which the envoy believes could be adopted by the international community, but have said that they are ready to respond to any plan through dialogue.
The bloodshed raged on unabated on Saturday, with at least 57 people, among them 25 civilians, killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
A shell hit Bab Tuma, a Christian area of Damascus, and a car bomb exploded in the Rokn Eddin district of the city, the Observatory told AFP.
Assad's forces bombarded rebel positions in Aleppo province and clashes broke out in areas around Aleppo international airport, said the Observatory, which gathers its information from medics and activists on the ground.