Assad commends forces; rebels destroy weapons depot
Syrian President Bashar Assad put on a show of confidence on Thursday, releasing photos of a visit to a war-scarred suburb of the capital and praising his troops' recent battlefield gains, even as a huge explosion shook the central city of Homs and offered a reminder of the rebels' ability to strike back.
Assad looked relaxed in a suit and open-collared shirt, according to footage and images released by state media, as he visited with soldiers in the suburb of Darayya during a rare public appearance outside Damascus to mark Syria's armed forces' day. Talking to the troops there, he commended the army for its progress against opposition forces in central and southern Syria.
The cracks in Assad's control of the country were underscored, however, as a blast struck a government-controlled area of Homs, sending a huge fireball into the air and killing at least 40 people, according to opposition groups, some of which said that tally included only soldiers, with scores more dead. Activists also said that footage and images of Assad's visit to Darayya, which the government claims it captured this year, were taken on its outskirts and the area remains contested.
After 2 years, the conflict in Syria has claimed more than 100,000 lives, according to the United Nations, and devastated the country's economy.
Assad described it as the “most barbaric war” in modern history and touted his troops' ability to prevent the government's ouster far longer than many in the international community had expected.
“You have stunned the whole world with your steadfastness and your ability to face challenges and score achievements,” he said.
The location Assad chose to visit was symbolic. Once a bastion of the revolution, Darayya was the site of an alleged massacre by Assad's forces last year as hundreds of bodies — some showing signs of summary execution, according to the United Nations — were found after government troops advanced.
Sama Masoud, an activist based in the Damascus suburbs, dismissed Assad's visit as a propaganda stunt, saying Darayya is split, with the government and rebels each controlling roughly half.
“The area where the photographs were taken is meters away from the gates of the Mezzeh military airport on the western side, the areas of regime control,” she said, adding that it is protected from snipers by high buildings and near a long-standing government checkpoint.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kenyan rangers killing poachers, rights group say
- IMF chief investigated for negligence in 2008 case in France
- Israel, Hamas accept Gaza war cease-fire
- U.S., China to meet, just days after interception of Navy patrol plane
- Coast Guard fires in defense on Iran boat
- Colombia drug lord’s most loyal assassin courts Hollywood upon early release from prison
- ‘Holocaust T-shirt’ for kids discontinued in Spain
- Right-wingers say Israel failed ‘so long as Hamas exists’
- Russian help implicit in new separatist push into Ukraine
- Israeli airstrike kills 3 senior Hamas leaders
- Gaza militants kill 18 alleged spies for Israel