President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has praised his armed forces in the face of what he called a “warped plot” against the country.
In a speech marking the anniversary of the army’s formation, he paid tribute to troops for their sacrifices and said Syria would resist what he labelled an attempt to split up the country.
The president’s comments come a day after one of the biggest crackdowns yet against protesters.
Activists claim more than 130 people were killed on the eve of Ramadan.
The facts are hard to verify, but it is thought dozens died in Hama, the city which has become a focal point for the revolt against the regime.
Official media said the military had entered the city to purge armed groups.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for more international pressure on Syria, including from Arab countries and Turkey.
But he said that military intervention was “not a remote possibility”.
Britain, France and Germany have called for the UN Security Council to meet.