Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday denied his government's forces had any role in last week's killings of more than 100 people in the village of Houla.
Addressing the Parliament, he described the killings as an "ugly crime" that even "monsters" would not carry out. "What happened in Houla and elsewhere (in Syria) are brutal massacres which even monsters would not have carried out," he was quoted by state television as saying.
Assad again blamed "terrorists," supported by foreign powers, for fomenting trouble in the Middle East country where violence was raging despite a ceasefire brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
He said Syria was not facing a political crisis but rather a project of sedition that aims at destroying the homeland. "We are facing a real war," Assad told the newly-elected lawmakers, adding that dealing with a real war differs from dealing with internal issues.
He said the political process was moving forward in Syria but stressed that terrorism was also moving unabatedly.
Assad said the delicate circumstances the country was going through required more audacity, solidity and sense of responsibility. He noted that the regional role had proven its failure regarding the Syrian crisis.
He said the door for dialog was still open, stressing readiness to embark on a dialog with the Opposition. He, however, made it clear that there would be no letup in fighting terrorism.
Assad said Syria's "doors are wide open to whoever wants a genuine reform, a truthful dialog, and their hearts are also open to engage every sincere Syrian citizen in the process of raising up the state."
"By reforms we can confront a big part of the assault on Syria," he said, adding that "after a year and a half since the start of the crisis, matters have become clear and masks have been removed.. . the regional role has disclosed itself by itself."
U.N. observers say at least 108 people died, including 49 children and 34 women have been killed in Houla on the outskirts of the city of Homs, one of the main centers of resistance against the Assad regime. Some of the victims were found shot dead in close range.
While a government investigation blamed armed groups responsible for the incident, U.N. investigators suspected most of the dead were summarily executed by pro-government militias.
The massacre had triggered international condemnation leading to the expulsion of Syrian diplomats from many countries in protest.
by RTT Staff Writer
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