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Assad vows zero tolerance to 'terrorists'

22 April 2013, 16:13

Cairo - Syrian President Bashar Assad has said his country would not relent in fighting against "militants and terrorists", Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported on Monday, as the opposition said dozens had been killed by government troops near the capital Damascus.

"No appeasement can be pursued with the militant and terrorist groups," SANA quoted Assad as telling a delegation of Lebanese politicians in Damascus on Sunday.

"Syria will firmly face terrorism in all its forms side by side with the government's continuation to implement the political programme to solve the crisis."

Damascus has repeatedly described the rebels fighting to oust Assad as "terrorists" financed by foreign powers.

Al-Assad said the situation in Syria was improving due to what he called "Syrians' steadfastness and their rallying around their valiant army".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the number of the people killed in an attack by government troops in the town of Jadidat al Fadl, south-west of Damascus, had risen to 110.

Sanctions to be eased

However, the Local Co-ordination Committees, a network of opposition activists, reported that 475 people had been killed in the town after five days of fighting between Assad's troops and rebels.

The figures could not be independently verified due to restrictions imposed by Damascus on the media.

European Union foreign ministers are expected on Monday to ease sanctions on Syria, including an oil embargo, in a goodwill gesture towards the Syrian opposition.

The move will help import oil from and invest in rebel-held areas, say observers.

The bloc's ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, are not to lift an arms embargo or sanctions imposed on Assad's regime for its two-year crackdown on the opposition.



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