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Syrian leader blames unrest on "saboteurs"

Opposition claims that over 1,400 have been killed since protests began mid-March.

Syrian girls hold posters of President Assad as a show of support in Beirut.
Syrian girls hold posters of President Assad as a show of support in Beirut.
Image: AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

SYRIA’S EMBATTLED president says “saboteurs” are trying to exploit legitimate demands for reform in the country.

President Bashar Assad’s speech today was only his third public address since the country’s uprising began in March.

He said the saboteurs are “a small faction” but they are causing a lot of damage and have infiltrated peaceful protests.

The opposition estimates more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as Assad’s forces try to crush the protest movement that began in mid-March, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Protesters insist they will accept nothing less than the downfall of a regime that has held power for more than 40 years.

- AP

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