Syrian president blames crisis on “saboteurs”

In his third public address since March, Bashar Assad says "a small faction" has infiltrated peaceful protests

Topics: Syria,

Syrian president blames crisis on "saboteurs"Protesters shout slogans as they carry pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, his father Hafez Assad, second from left, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, center, and Syrian flags, during a demonstration to show their support for the Syrian President in front of the Russian Embassy, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, June 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)(Credit: AP)

Syria’s embattled president says “saboteurs” are trying to exploit legitimate demands for reform in the country.

President Bashar Assad’s speech Monday was only his third public address since the country’s uprising began in March.

He said the saboteurs are “a small faction” but they are causing a lot of damage and have infiltrated peaceful protests.

The opposition estimates more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as Assad’s forces try to crush the protest movement that began in mid-March, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Protesters insist they will accept nothing less than the downfall of a regime that has held power for more than 40 years.

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