Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in addressing the country’s parliament for the first time since last month’s parliamentary elections acknowledged country’s unrest had taken a “bloody toll”, but said outside forces were responsible.
“A year and a half after the crisis has begun, things became clear and masks were removed… the international role in what is taking place was exposed since decades …colonialism remains unchanged but its methods and faces are changing and the regional role exposed itself, ” Assad said according to SANA State TV.
He said Syria had implemented clear steps towards introducing political reforms in the country and held parliamentary elections on time, despite violence in the country, Al Jazeera reported.
He stressed that conducting people’s Assembly elections as scheduled slapped those who wanted that Syria closes in on itself, drowns in the blood of its people, State TV said.
“The political process is moving forward, yet terrorism is not going down,” Assad said. “Terrorists are not interested in dialogue or reform.”
Damascus has accused armed groups for the 15-month conflict in the country, but anti-government activists say Syrian security forces have carried out a brutal crackdown in which thousands have died, Al Jazeera writes.
The announcement for the speech comes after Arab leaders called on the UN to act to stop the 15-month conflict that has persisted despite a UN-backed peace plan that includes the deployment of nearly 300 observers, AP reported. The head of the Arab League on Saturday asked the U.N. Security Council to increase the size of a U.N. mission in Syria and give it expanded powers to protect people, according to a letter leaked to media on Friday.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, on Saturday hinted that the first responsibility to resolve the conflict lies with the Syrian Government, and with President Assad and warned of the growing sectarian violence in Syria, adding that the conflict is already having serious consequences in the region and calling on the international community to work together to push for the implementation of the six-point peace plan.
Since the so-called ceasefire which came into effect on April 12, as many as 2,300 people have been killed, according to AFP.
Assad’s speech comes as parliament convened for the first time since a controversial May 7 election boycotted by the opposition. Despite changes to the constitution ending the Baath’s five-decade domination of power, more than 160 of the 250 members of parliament are Baathists.