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Syria's Assad Calls For Striking Rebels 'With Iron Fist'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the conflict in Syria could only be settled after terrorism was stamped out in the country. (file photo)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the conflict in Syria could only be settled after terrorism was stamped out in the country. (file photo)
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By RFE/RL
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says there is no possibility of a political dialogue with opposition rebels and has called for striking opposition fighters "with an iron fist."

Assad made the remarks during a dinner on August 4 in Damascus to break the day's Ramadan fast.

Syrian television showed Assad entering a large dining hall filled with prominent members of Syrian society -- including clerics, ministers, artists and members of community organizations.

Patriarch of Antioch John Yazigi, Grand Mufti Ahmed Badr al-Din al-Hassoun, and Defense Minster Fahed al-Freij also were in attendance.

In a speech, Assad called rebel fighters "terrorists," and said he didn't think "that any sane human being would think that terrorism can be dealt with via politics."

"Terrorism and politics are complete opposites," Assad added. "There cannot be political action and progress on the political track while terrorism hits everywhere. Terrorism must be hit so that politics can move correctly."

Assad dismissed the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as a "failure that could not play any role" in resolving Syria's ongoing crisis.

He said the conflict in Syria could only be settled after terrorism was stamped out in the country.

"If we succeeded in this popular war and there were a wider contribution in the other areas, I would like to say that the solution will be in a matter of months, Syria will be able to end its crisis and beat terrorism," he said.

Assad also said that Syria must now decide what kind of state it will be, "a law-governed state or a state where the power belongs to thieves and bandits."

United Nations investigators say Assad's forces have carried out war crimes that include unlawful killings, torture, sexual violence, indiscriminate attacks, and pillaging.

They say those war crimes appear to be the result of a state-directed policy.

UN investigators say rebels have also committed war crimes -- including executions -- but on a lesser scale.

After more than two years of conflict, the United Nations says over 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and ITAR-TASS

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