Assad talks tough on TV

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Assad talks tough on TV

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President Assad of Syria has come out fighting in a television interview for Lebanon’s al-Manar.

In it he insisted Syria had been supplied with new Russian anti-aircraft missiles, and he gave no signs he was contemplating surrender.

“Why does Hezbollah have bases set up inside Syria or Lebanon? It’s because the war is with the enemy, Israel, and their collaborators in Syria or Lebanon.”

At the UN efforts are being redoubled to stave off an escalation.

“I have been urging all the parties who have influence to stop the fighting. We should urge both sides to see there is no shortage of arms for both sides,” said the UN’s Ban ki-Moon.

Assad also indicated he was ready to attend peace talks with the opposition, but any deal struck would have to go to the Syrian people in a referendum.

“The only thing that unites the Syrian opposition is that they want Assad out. They have no platform and impossible preconditions. It is clear to all, including our Western partners, that this position is unrealistic,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia denies it has delivered any S-300 systems yet, but it is furious the EU lifted its arms embargo against Syria to help the rebels, and it is likely to help the government.