- Special Pages
One of a series of five convoys carrying Patriot missiles makes its way on a freeway in Sanitz, northern Germany, yesterday. The missiles are to be transported to Turkey as part of a Nato deployment in view of the threat perception from the Syrian regime.
DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in a rare speech denounced the opposition yesterday as “slaves” of the West and called for national dialogue to draft a new charter and pave the way for
Outlining a reconciliation plan aimed at resolving Syria’s 21-month conflict which according to the UN has claimed more than 60,000 lives, Assad called on foreign powers to end their support for rebels seeking to topple his regime.
“Regional and international countries must stop funding the armed men to allow those displaced to return to their homes,” Assad said to wild applause from crowds packed into the Dar Al Assad Centre for Culture and Arts in Damascus.
“Right after that our military operations will cease,” he said, adding without elaborating that a mechanism to monitor such a truce would be established.
The government would then step up contacts to convene a national dialogue conference with regime opponents “from inside and outside” the country, who do not take orders from abroad.
“We will dialogue with (those who are) the masters (of their decisions) not the slaves (of foreign powers),” Assad said.
Any resolution of the conflict must be purely Syrian and ratified by referendum, including the charter to be drafted at the national dialogue conference, he insisted.
After the referendum, parliamentary polls would be held, followed by the creation of a new government, said Assad.