Sunday, June 3, 2012

Assad: 'We are facing a war from abroad'

(CNN) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed his country and the newly-elected People's Assembly on Sunday, decrying what he called the "terrorists" and "conspiracy" against Syria.

"At this time, we are facing a war from abroad," al-Assad said in his first public speech since January. "Dealing with it is different from dealing with people from inside."

His remarks stand in stark contrast to what the opposition and many world leaders have said for more than a year -- that al-Assad's forces, not external "terrorists," are behind a sustained slaughter stemming from the regime's crackdown on dissidents.

As the president spoke, heavy shelling rained on the anti-government bastion of Homs, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Simultaneously, at least five people were killed in Homs, Aleppo and Hama, the group said.

Opposition activists also reported seeing a large military convoy of about 45 trucks carrying tanks, armored personnel carriers and soldiers heading toward Deir Ezzor during al-Assad's speech.

Al-Assad insisted "the battle is forced upon us," but promised amnesty for those who stop fighting immediately. Read More