Syrian President Says Country Will Triumph Over “Conspiracy”

Posted January 11th, 2012 at 7:30 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told thousands of supporters the country will triumph over the “conspiracy” he has blamed for 10 months of anti-government unrest.

Mr. Assad told those at a rally Wednesday in the capital, Damascus, that he wanted to draw strength from them, a day after he gave a televised address vowing to crack down on “terrorists with an iron fist.”

His appearance came as an Arab League monitor quit an observer mission that is assessing whether the Syrian government is honoring an agreement to stop violence against protesters.

In a television interview, Anwer Malek told al-Jazeera the mission is a “farce” and that the Syrian government “fabricated” most of the what the observers saw.

Meanwhile, Cyprus said Wednesday a ship suspected of carrying tons of munitions bound for Syria is free to leave a port in Cyprus after changing its destination.

The ship docked in Cyprus Tuesday amid bad weather, and is reportedly carrying between 35 and 60 tons of munitions.

Also Wednesday, Syrian rights activists said four people were killed in clashes with government security forces as troops stormed a town near the central city of Hama.

The U.N. Security Council said Tuesday that 400 people — an average of 40 each day — have been killed since the Arab League observers arrived in Syria December 26.