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      Assad Calls to Mobilize against ‘Terrorist’ Rebels

      In a rare public speech, Syria’s President Assad calls for “full national mobilization” against “terrorist” rebels.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 1/6/2013, 1:58 PM

      Damaged buildings in Syria
      Damaged buildings in Syria

      Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a rare public speech Sunday as violence continues to rage across his country. Contrary to expectations that Assad would reveal a compromise aimed at solving the conflict, the embattled ruler called instead for a “full national mobilization” to fight his enemies.

      Assad did term his initiative a peace plan, saying that after “terrorist” rebels are defeated, “those who have not betrayed Syria” would be given amnesty and included in the creation of a new government.

      Assad dismissed most of those fighting his rule as Al-Qaeda terrorists, and called on the world to stop giving them support.

      “The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming [the opposition], an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders,” he said.

      Assad added that his administration “will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the West.”

      The United Nations estimates that over 60,000 people have died in fighting since anti-Assad riots first broke out in Syria in March 2011. Each side has accused the other of human rights abuses, including targeting civilians for slaughter.