President Bashar al-Assad says Syria is facing a war, waged from outside the country.
In a speech before parliament on Sunday, he said that terrorism was escalating, despite political reforms.
Assad also denied that government forces had any role in the recent Houla massacre, which left more than 100 people dead.
He blamed foreign powers for creating divisions.
“The international community as well as some countries in the region believe that what is happening in Syria is just peaceful demonstrations in the streets and that any violence is carried out by the state,” Assad said.
“Today, a year-and-a-half on, everything is clear and masks have fallen down. The international role in this crisis is now very clear.”
The President has made very few public appearances during a 15-month uprising against his rule.
The United Nations says Syrian forces have killed more than 9,000 people in a crackdown on protests against Assad.