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Syrian President Assad confident he will quell uprising

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed confidence of victory against the rebels in the ongoing civil war that has ravaged his nation over the past two years. Assad made these comments at a visit to the town of Daraya, southwest of Damascus which was once overrun by insurgents that has since been retaken by his army.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The gesture appeared to be the remarks of a president who is taking the upper hand in a conflict after many Syrians saw him about to be ousted.

"If we were not sure that we were going to win in Syria, we would not have the ability to resist and the ability to continue fighting for more than two years against the enemy," Assad was quoted as saying.

While insurgents have seized large swathes of territory, Assad's forces have since staged a counter-offensive in recent weeks. Rebels have been pushed back from around the capital Damascus and have retaken several towns near the border with Lebanon.

Assad has called those who dare decry his family's four decades of iron-fisted rule as a foreign-backed conspiracy fought by Islamist "terrorists." When pro-democracy protests started in March 2011, a military crackdown eventually led to an armed insurrection.

A huge explosion hit a majority Alawite, which is the same sect as the president - neighborhood of the central city of Homs on Thursday, blasting a fireball hundreds of yards into the air, video posted on the Internet by opposition activists showed.

The blast killed at least 22 people including soldiers and civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad monitoring group said.

United Nation investigators say Assad's forces have carried out war crimes including unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence, indiscriminate attacks and pillaging in what appears to be a state-directed policy. The other side of the coin is that anti-government rebels have also committed war crimes, including executions, but on a lesser scale.

Both sides accuse the other of using chemical weapons. A chemical weapons investigation team is scheduled to visit three sites where alleged attacks have occurred, the United Nations says.

It is hard to say if the trip will be able to establish who was behind the attacks. One attack in the northern town of Khan al-Assal was in March and samples of Sarin gas can degrade within weeks. Sarin is a fast-acting nerve agent that was originally developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide, and was used in the Tokyo subway attacks of 1995.

Weapons inspectors will only determine scientifically whether banned chemical agents were used in the 28-month-old conflict, and not who used them, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works with the United Nations on inspections.

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