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Syria's Assad makes an unusual television appearance the day after his regime suffers a major defection.
Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad today made his first television appearance in over two weeks, with state television today reportedly showing him meeting with an Iranian official in Damascus, according to BBC News.
The rare footage comes a day after Assad's regime lost Prime Minister Riad Hijab to the opposition movement trying to overthrow the government.
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Assad appeared on television alongside Iran's security chief Saeed Jalili, who pushed for what he called a "Syrian solution" to the crisis there, said BBC.
Syria has been torn apart by over a year of violence as Assad tried to stifle rebellion against his strong-armed rule. Activists say some 17,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.
The situation has escalated into a civil-war-like scenario in recent weeks, while efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis remain in disarray.
Iran is a staunch ally of Syria, and Jalili vowed continued support to Assad on television today. “What is happening in Syria is not an internal issue but a conflict between the axis of resistance on one hand, and the regional and global enemies of this axis on the other,” The Telegraph cited Jalili as saying.
“The Syrian people and their government are determined to purge the country of terrorists and to fight the terrorists without respite,” he said, the state news agency SANA quoted Jalili as saying, said The Telegraph.
The last time Assad was on TV was July 22, said Agence-France Press.
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Iran is also trying to arrange for the release of a large group of Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria on Saturday, said the BBC.
“Kidnapping innocent people is not acceptable anywhere in the world,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency cited Jalili as saying, The Washington Post reported.
Assad's meeting comes a day after reports that Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be attending a special security summit in Saudi Arabia that is expected to focus on the Syria issue.