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Assad vows to crush ‘terrorism’ with iron fist

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday blamed "foreign planning" for a 10-month-old popular uprising in which thousands of people have been killed and vowed to strike "terrorists with an iron fist".

world Updated: Jan 11, 2012 00:56 IST
Beirut
This-videograb-from-Syrian-state-television-shows-Syrian-President-Bashar-al-Assad-delivering-a-speech-in-Damascus-AFP-Photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Tuesday to strike “terrorists” with an iron fist and derided Arab League efforts to halt violence in a 10-month-old revolt against his rule.

The president’s 100-minute speech, his first public address since June, contained some promises of reform, but no sweeping concessions that might placate an opposition now determined to end more than four decades of domination by the Assad family.

Assad, 46, offered a referendum on a new constitution in March before a multi-party parliamentary election that has been much postponed. Under the present constitution, Assad’s Baath party is designated as “the leader of the state and society”. But the Syrian leader gave no sign that he was willing to relinquish power.

In the latest bloodshed, Syrian forces shot dead 10 people, most of them anti-Assad protesters, in the city of Deir al-Zor, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


Israel prepares for Syrian refugees

Israel’s military chief says the country is readying to take in Syrian refugees should Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime fall.

Lt Gen Benny Gantz told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that he expects Assad will be toppled by the popular uprising against him.

Gantz says that would hurt Syria’s ruling Alawite minority, so “we are getting ready to take in Alawite refugees in the Golan Heights.”

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in 1967, then annexed it in 1981 in a move that has not been recognised internationally.

Gantz also said it was possible Assad would stir up trouble with Israel in the Golan to try to weaken opposition against him.

ap, JERUSALEM