Assad says Syria’s army engaged in ‘crucial battle’ with ‘terrorist gangs’


The Syrian army is engaged in a “crucial and heroic battle,” President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday in a speech published by official media agency SANA on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the army.

“The army is engaged in a crucial and heroic battle... on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests. The enemy is among us today, using agents to destabilize the country, the security of its citizens and continues to exhaust our economic and scientific resources,” Assad said, according to AFP.

He praised his soldiers for confronting what he said were “criminal terrorist gangs.”

“The fate of our people and our nation, past, present and future, depends on this battle,” Assad, who has not spoken in public for two weeks, said in a written statement marking armed forces day, according to Reuters.

His latest remarks -- made as the two sides battled for control of Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo -- appeared in a statement in the military’s magazine to mark armed forces day.

But it was not clear exactly when or where he was speaking, indicating heightened concern over his personal security in the wake of the bombing at the defense headquarters in the capital.