Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Assad rallies Syria's armed forces with personal message

President Bashar Assad

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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