In a highly unusual move, Syrian president Bashar al Assad today took to Parliament to address his accusers.
In a speech designed to quell domestic and international calls for his resignation, Assad argued that Syria must pull together  as a nation and defend itself against foreign intervention.
“The greater good of the nation is more important than personal views,” he said.
The speech came as UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, predicted the start of all-out civil war in the volatile state. Since news broke of the massacre in al-Houla of women and children by government troops, the country has increasingly looked on the brink of chaos.
Annan said it was essential that Assad follow his six-point peace plan , which includes the cessation of all armed violence.
The Syrian president used his speech to play on the idea that rebels and opposition members were trying to break up the fabric of Syrian society. “The solution begins when we realize great nations rise above their difference,” he said.
He said he had spoken to the families of martyrs whose family members were killed by stray bullets. They continued to be patriotic and attend pro-government marches because they understood that their family members died for the greater good of the country.
Louay Safi , chairman of the Syrian American Council,  said Syrians were no longer prepared to listen to Assad’s calls for national unity: “The people in Syria are not buying his arguments anymore.”
He also claimed that half the country was no longer under the president’s control and even regime strongholds such as Damascus were on general strike to protest against the government.
But Assad was keen to appear as a unifying force for Syria, claiming that he would “defend the homeland” against foreign intervention. So far Saudi Arabia has led the calls for international military intervention.
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