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Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, Gives Rare Speech On Civil War

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Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, has made a rare public speech about the country's devastating civil war, blaming the bloodshed on foreign-funded "terrorists."

A defiant Assad spoke in the opera house in central Damascus, to a packed crowd of chanting supporters.

He called for "foreign countries" to stop "financing armed groups", put an end to "terrorist movements" and "allow refugees to return".

assad speech

It was the first public comments by Assad since November

Looking to the future he announced a new national charter.

He said: "The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming [the opposition], an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders

"We will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the West."

Assad spoke of the "suffering that is happening all over Syria" as a "black cloud" of pain.

He added: "Killing innocents kills light in our country".

On Wednesday, the United Nations said at least 60,000 people had been killed in the conflict since the uprising began almost two years ago.

Assad insisted the opposition were not revolutionaries but "terrorists" and a "bunch of criminals".

He said: "[A revolution] would need thinkers and be based on an idea.

"It needs leadership - who is the leader of this revolution?"

He blamed the rebels for stealing from the people and sabotaging electricity supplies.

"Syria will remain a free and sovereign country", he added.

As Assad left the stage he was mobbed by the crowds as his bodyguards bundled him out.

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