Assad’s speech calling for him to stay in power draws criticism from State Department

Published January 06, 2013

A defiant Syrian President Bashar Assad made a rare public appearance Sunday, ignoring international demands and calling for Syrians to fight the uprising against his rule in a speech that drew a sharp rebuke from the State Department.

In his first public speech in six months, Assad laid out terms for a peace plan that keeps himself in power and pledged to continue the battle “as long as there is one terrorist left” in Syria.

“What we started will not stop,” he said, standing at a lectern on stage at the regal Opera House in central Damascus — a sign by the besieged leader that he sees no need to hide or compromise even with the violent civil war closing in on his seat of power in the capital.

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