Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has given a mixed message in a speech vowing to continue his harsh crackdown on so-called saboteurs while at the same time pledging reforms.
In just his third address since the unrest began in March, the Syrian leader promised to review new legislation. But his remarks were made in front of his fellow ruling Alawite loyalists and he made it clear to them he would not be stepping down.
Almost immediately a wave of demonstrations were reported to have begun in towns across Syria.
In Washington the US said it was time Assad backed up his words of reform with actions, while the EU has stepped up sanctions against the regime.