Jan 11 - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses thousands of his supporters at a rally in central Damascus. Travis Brecher reports.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives a surprise address to thousands of his supporters gathered in a central Damascus square. One day after he denied any policy of killing protesters during a rare televised address, Assad told the crowd that he was one with the people of Syria and that he would do what it takes to protect them against foreign conspirators. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SAYING: "The important thing is to have faith in the future, and I have faith in the future and in you, because we will win without a doubt. They have reached the end of their conspiracy. We will make this phase the end for them and their plans." Many of Assad's supporters have condemned the Arab League's decision to suspend Syrian membership, and the imposition of economic sanctions. Syria has barred most independent media from crossing its border, making it difficult to determine what's really happening on the ground. But the U.N. says more than 5,000 civilians have been killed by security forces as part of a crackdown on peaceful protests over the last 10 months. Meanwhile, Syrian authorities say they are battling Islamist militant groups who have killed 2,000 members of the country's armed forces. Travis Brecher, Reuters