Syria's Assad reiterates fight against terrorists
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that his country is facing a war and that he will fight the terrorists that he says are behind the uprising.
Assad's government has been condemned by many countries because his forces have responded to his citizens' calls for him to step down with a severe crackdown, sometimes with heavy weapons. Thousands of people have been reported killed in the fighting.
In a speech to parliament, Assad reiterated on Sunday that foreign terrorists and extremists are responsible for the now 15 months of turmoil in his country.
Recently, more than 100 people, nearly half of them children, were killed in attacks on the Syrian city of Houla. On Sunday, reports say, Assad denied that his government had any role in the attacks on the city.
Assad also compared his role in the country's war as a surgeon trying to save a patient.
"When a surgeon in an operating room ... cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him your hands are stained with blood?" Assad said in a televised speech to parliament, according to the Associated Press. "Or do we thank him for saving the patient?"
Assad, 46, took power in Syria in 2000 after his father, Hafez Assad, died.
Meantime, Lebanon moved troops into the city of Tripoli on Sunday morning after fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed 13 people, media reports say.
Reuters reported that the city was calm after the troops deployed.
The northern city of Tripoli is split between Sunni Muslims opposing the Syrian regime and a small community of Alawites, a Shi'ite Islam branch to which the Assad family belongs, Reuters reported.