The US has dismissed a speech made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as ‘a meaningless attempt to retain power’ and called on him to step down.
In general, Western countries and Syria’s opposition agreed that the address – Assad’s first since June – offered nothing new.
Damascus had billed the speech as unveiling a new peace plan but the Syrian leader offered no concessions.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said empty commitments would not allow progress:
“If it is clear now that Assad will not do anything new, then the UN Security Council must decide on a stance on the situation in Syria. The first decision needs to be made on distributing aid to the Syrian people.”
Refugees who have fled the violence at home had been hoping for movement on the UN-Arab League initiative towards a political settlement.
But instead Assad hardened his position calling his supporters to ‘a war to defend the nation’.