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Syria's Assad vows to strike with an 'iron fist'.

Summary: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to strike "terrorists" with an iron fist.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to strike "terrorists" with an iron fist and has derided the Arab League for trying to stop violence in a ten-month-old revolt against his rule.

In the president's first public address since June, he spoke of vague promises of reform, but no sweeping concessions that might split an opposition now determined to end more than four decades of domination by the Assad family.

Assad, 46, offered a referendum on a new constitution in March before a multi-party parliamentary election that has been much postponed. Under the present constitution, Assad's Baath party is designated as "the leader of the state and society".

However, the Syrian leader gave no sign that he was willing to relinquish the power he inherited on his father's death in 2000.

He declared: "I am not someone who abandons responsibility."

Assad made scathing remarks about the Arab League, which has sent monitors to check Syria's compliance with an Arab peace plan after suspending it from the 22-member body in November.

"The Arab League has failed for six decades to take a position in the Arab interest ... We should not be surprised," he said, while adding that Syria would not "close the door" to any Arab proposal that respected its sovereignty and unity.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2012. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jan 10, 2012
Words:249
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