Assad's 'Groundbreaking' Speech Offers Little

Speech enrages protesters, who Assad called 'saboteurs'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2011 10:31 AM CDT
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syria's President, Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, Syria, Monday, June 20, 2011.   (AP Photo/SANA)

(Newser) – Protests broke out across Syria today, after president Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech that blamed “saboteurs” and “foreign conspiracies” for the country’s unrest. The speech had been hailed in advance as one that would potentially be "groundbreaking," but it actually offered little new in terms of concessions or reforms, according to al Jazeera. Assad promised only to form committees and hold “national dialogues” that might lead to political reforms or a new constitution.

Chants of “liar, liar,” rang out in the city of Latakia, where several neighborhoods are surrounded by troops, Reuters reports. Protests also broke out as far east as Albu Kamal , a city near the Iraqi border, as far south as Daraa, and in the suburbs of Damascus, where people shouted, “No to dialogue with murderers.” In the north, meanwhile, Syrian troops blocked all roads to Turkey, to prevent more refugees from fleeing there and to block food and medical aid from flowing in, ABC News reports.

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