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Syria crisis: Assad blames 'foreign enemies' for strife

Beirut: Syrian President Bashar Assad says foreign enemies are using "internal agents" to undermine the country's stability.

Speaking to the army Wednesday on the 67th anniversary of its founding, Assad said the armed forces are the "homeland's shield" against plots by criminal and terrorist gangs.

Syrian President Assad blamed foreign forces in collusion with internal agents for the strife.

He said the people see the army as a "source of pride" and a "defender of just causes."

The speech, which was carried by the state news agency but not broadcast on state television, was a rare comment from the president who has kept a low profile during recent fighting in the country's two main cities.

Syria is enmeshed in a 17-month rebellion pitting rebels against the army.

AP