Assad takes defiant message to street
Syria’s al-Assad waves at supporters at a rare public appearance in Damascus. AFP photoSyrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed on yesterday to vanquish “foreign conspirators” plotting to end his rule, and an Arab League observer quit Syria, accusing the authorities of committing war crimes.
Assad, fighting 10 months of pro-democracy protests, greeted thousands of rapturous supporters in a Damascus square, only a day after breaking a six-month public silence, Reuters reported.
Assad’s wife Asma and their two children joined him for his surprise appearance in the capital’s central Umayyad Square.
“I belong to this street,” Assad, 46, said, adding Syria faced foreign conspirators. “We will make this phase the end for them and their plans. We are going to win without any doubt.” Meanwhile, attacks on Arab observers in Syria are raising doubts about the sustainability of the Arab League mission there, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. “The Arab League observers could not perform their duties as desired. They met many obstacles,” Davutoğlu said. “We will go on supporting this mission of the Arab League,” he added.
One observer quits
One Arab League monitor, Anwar Malek, said he had resigned because the mission was powerless to prevent what he said were the “scenes of horror” he had seen in the restive city of Homs. “The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled,” the Algerian told Al Jazeera English television. “The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw.” Four people were killed in Kafr Nabouda, in Hama province, where troops staging raids fought army deserters, activists said. It put Tuesday’s civilian death toll at 27.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration Jan. 10 harshly criticized al-Assad’s effort to defend his regime’s crackdown on protesters, saying it illustrates how unfit he is to lead a democratic transition in Syria. Organizers said hundreds of activists are gathering on Turkey’s border to delivering aid to Syria. Hasan Shibly, a spokesman for the “Freedom Convoy” group, said yesterday that the activists will try to cross the border today to take truckloads of food, medical aid and other supplies into Syria, Associated Press reported.