Assad outlines new Syria peace initiative

Associated Press
A boy is seen through a car window as he rides on the back of a truck in the streets of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The revolt against President Bashar Assad that started in March 2011 began with peaceful protests but morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people, according to a recent United Nations recent estimate. (AP Photo/ Andoni Lubaki)
.

View photo

A boy is seen through a car window as he rides on the back of a truck in the streets of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The revolt against President Bashar Assad that started in March 2011 began with peaceful protests but morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people, according to a recent United Nations recent estimate. (AP Photo/ Andoni Lubaki)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad has outlined a new peace initiative that includes a national reconciliation conference and a new constitution.

Assad, however, says the initiative can only take roots after regional and Western countries stop funding what he called militant extremists fighting to overthrow him.

Assad spoke Sunday in a rare speech addressing the nation, his first since June.

As in previous speeches, he said his forces were fighting groups of "murderous criminals" and jihadi elements and denied there was an uprising against his family's decades-long rule.

He struck a defiant tone, saying Syria will not take dictates from anyone.

His initiative is likely to be rejected by opposition forces and rebels, who insist he must step down.

View Comments (307)