BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Tuesday to hit “terrorists” with an iron fist and satirized Arab League endeavours to stop violence in a 10-month-old Syria insurgency.
In his first public address of 100-minute since June, Assad announced a referendum on a new constitution in March before a multi-party parliamentary election that has been much postponed.
He criticized the role of Arab League monitors in Syria and said it has failed for six decades to play active role in Arab world.
46-year-old Assad made some promises of reform, but no sweeping concessions that might placate an opposition now determined to end more than four decades of domination by the Assad family.
Assad’s Baath party has been under hot water for having “the leader of the state and society” for decades.
But the Syrian leader gave no sign that he was willing to step down the power he inherited on his father’s death in 2000.
“I am not someone who abandons responsibility,” he declared.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), the largest opposition umbrella group, branded Assad’s rare speech an ‘incitement to violence’ that pushes the country closer to a civil war.