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Syrian President Bashar Assad outlines new peace plan

Damascus, Jan 7 (): Syrian President Bashar Assad made clear to the world Sunday in his first public address after six months that he has no plan of surrendering power and that he, not anyone else, would order the end of Syria’s 21-month-old civil war.

The Syrian President spoke to a packed hall at the Opera House in central Damascus, and the audience frequently broke out in cheers and applause. He gave the speech confidently for nearly an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who at one point raised their fists and chanted: “With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!”

During the public address, Assad presented himself as a Syrian patriot, the only one capable of holding the nation together. Assad framed his speech as a new plan for a political solution. He laid out terms for a peace plan that keeps himself in power, ignoring international demands to step down and assuring to carry on the battle “as long as there is one terrorist left” in Syria.

He comes out with a confident tone, saying Syria will not take dictates from anyone but urged Syrians to unite to save the country. Saying that “suffering is overwhelming” the land, he added: “The nation is for all and we all must protect it.”

In his speech, Assad thanked China, Iran and Russia for supporting Syria in the face of hostility from the US, Britain and France. Assad demanded that the Western countries must stop funding and arming the rebels trying to overthrow him.

The Syrian opposition called his speech a declaration of war. In a statement, Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood said Assad’s plan represented “nothing”, and that he was “a war criminal waiting to be judged.”

Assad last spoke in public on 3rd June when he addressed parliament in Damascus. In November, in an interview to a Russian TV he dismissed suggestions he would go into exile, saying he would “live and die” in Syria.