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Defiant Assad blames Syria unrest on foreign forces

RIA Novosti

14:52 10/01/2012

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) - Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday he would not resign from his post and reiterated that a foreign conspiracy was behind the bloody unrest in the country.

In his fourth public address since mass national protests against his rule erupted last March, Assad once again said that he still has the support of the Syrian people and would leave office “only by the will of the people.”

The Syrian leader, who has ruled the country for almost a decade, said foreign forces were orchestrating protests in Syria but so far have failed to achieve their goals.

The outside forces “did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for,” Al Jazeera quoted him as saying.

He once again confirmed his support of the government’s ban on foreign media reports from Syria.

When the unrest began, foreign reporters worked freely in the country, “but fabrications from inside convinced us to put some control on this,” he said.

Assad’s speech, delivered in Damascus, comes almost a month after Syria agreed to allow a group of Arab League observers to make a report on the situation in the country.

Assad said it was actually “his idea” to allow observers “to find out the truth.”

A group of over 160 Arab League monitors arrived in Syria in late December on a month-long mission to implement a plan calling for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.

The Syrian opposition called the Arab League’s mission “a farce” after Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, who heads the mission, said that the situation in Syria was calm and reassuring.

According to UN data, Assad's crackdown on the protests, inspired by uprisings across the Arab world this year, has killed more than 5,000 people. Syrian authorities blame armed gangs for the violence and say 1,100 soldiers and police have been killed.

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