Assad rejects dialogue with “Western puppet.” US, EU: He must step down

Syrian ruler Bashar Assad calls for full national mobilization against outside forces whom he blames for orchestrating the conflict in his country. In his first public appearance Sunday in seven months, the Syrian ruler outlined what he called a peace plan. He invited “those who have not betrayed Syria” to a conference of reconciliation, followed by the formation of a new government and an amnesty. But Assad added, "We will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the West.” The first stage of a political solution would require that the regional powers stop funding and arming the opposition. He vowed to defeat the rebellion fighting to overthrow his regime, calling the rebels “terrorists” and “criminals” who harbor al Qaeda’s extremist ideology.
 Assad spoke before cheering supporters at the Opera House in central Damascus.


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