Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Assad rallies Syria's armed forces with personal message

President Bashar Assad
Syrian president Bashar Assad (AP/SANA)
In this Sunday, July 29, 2012 photo, medics help a wounded man at the border town of Azaz, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Aleppo, Syria. The U.N. said 200,000 Syrians have fled the embattled city of Aleppo since intense clashes between regime forces and rebels began 10 days ago. The government forces turned mortars, tank and helicopter gunships against rebel positions on Monday, July 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Turkpix)

The Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, urged his fighters yesterday to step up their "heroic" battle that he said will determine the destiny of the country.

In a message published on the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian armed forces, President Assad described the military as "the backbone of the motherland".

Straying somewhat from the regime line that the uprising is the work of foreign terrorists, President Assad described the conflict as "multi-faceted", with foreign fighters supported by "internal agents".

"Today you are invited to increase your readiness and willingness for the armed forces to be the shield, wall and fortress of our nation," he said in the message published in the army magazine.

"Our battle is against a multi-faceted enemy with clear goals. This battle will determine the destiny of our people and the nation's past, present and future."

With the speech not televised, it was not clear if the President delivered it directly to his troops, who have suffered heavy losses during the conflict, particularly in recent weeks.

President Assad is yet to make a public address following the devastating opposition strike on his inner circle on 18 July, which killed four of his top security officials. Following the bombing, there were rumours he had fled to the Alawite stronghold of Latakia, though some Western diplomats say they believe he remains in Damascus.

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