Assad says Syria will not submit to 'plots'
DAMASCUS/BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday stressed that his regime, battered by nearly two years of revolt, will not submit to pressure or "plots" against it, reported state news agency SANA. "Syria will remain the beating heart of the Arab world and will not give up its principles despite the intensifying pressure and diversifying plots not only targeting Syria, but all Arabs," Assad said at a meeting with a Jordanian delegation in Damascus.
The statement came after Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib said he had received "no clear response" from Damascus over his offer of dialogue.
Khatib said in late January he was prepared to hold direct talks with regime representatives who did not have "blood on their hands," and so long as the discussions addressed replacing Assad.
The Assad regime had said it was open to talks but without pre-conditions.
The Syrian uprising began with mass peaceful protests in March 2011 and steadily grew into an armed insurgency amid continued state crackdowns. Air raids, shelling attacks and fighting has left over 60,000 people dead since then according to the UN, the vast majority in the second year of the conflict.
Twin suicide attacks kill 14 Syria security officers: NGO
Jihadist rebels killed 14 Syrian intelligence officers in twin suicide car bomb attacks against their offices in the northeast province of Hasakeh on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"At least 14 members of state security and military intelligence were killed when Al-Nusra Front fighters detonated car bombs in front of the state security headquarters and a military intelligence building in the town of Shadada," the watchdog said, citing sources on the ground.
The Observatory said that the number of fatalities was expected to rise since many others were wounded and in critical condition.
It added that clashes were continuing in the town, whose inhabitants -- including many employees of a nearby oilfield -- have largely fled.
Al-Nusra Front has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organisation for its deadly suicide attacks, but it has meanwhile traction on the ground as a fearless fighting force in the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.