Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
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Syria's President Assad says state and people must unite

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has maintained a tough line in the face of anti-government protests, but said a national dialogue on reform will begin.

In his third address to the nation since protests began, he said Syria should deal with people's demands for reform but that a "small faction" was exploiting popular grievances.

He blamed anti-government protests on a small group of "saboteurs".

Rights groups say at least 1,300 civilians have died in protests since March. More than 300 soldiers and police have also been killed, they say.

  • 20 Jun 2011
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