Syrian president Bashar Assad made one of his rare, pre-recorded appearances on Syrian television today, proving that he is not dead and retains control of the Syrian government. He shows up in a carefully produced setting in the president's palace while orchestral music (not unlike Pirates of the Caribbean) swells behind him.
It feels like a movie trailer. There's a translated clip of the interview on the Telegraph's website. It features bold words and phrases that fill the page, like 'Terror' and 'Media Censorship'. But the stunner is at the end. After admonishing Syrians not to rebel against their country, Assad says the warfare is "a positive action. It is a cleansing of the nation, firstly, and generally."
In other observations, Assad confidently said: "the situation on the ground was better now, but the conclusion is not there yet", according to the BBC. Assad says his troops just need more time to win the battles against rebels that have left some 20,000 people dead and forced more than 200,000 Syrians to flee for their lives.
The Syrian president says Turkey's idea to create a 'buffer zone' within Syria to protect refugees won't work, and he criticized Turkish officials for their 'ignorance', notes Reuters.
Turkey is calling on the United Nations today to set up some kind of safe zone for Syrians fleeing the fighting, because more than 80,000 refugees have escaped to Turkey alone. There are thousands more in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
There's been terrible fighting recently near Damascus, Syria's capital. Syrian government troops apparently slaughtered as many as 400 people in Daraya, a nearby town, according to the Guardian. The report says troops were after rebel fighters but also murdered civilians.
"We are moving forward," Assad tells his interviewer, notes the Telegraph. He added, "security forces are doing a heroic job in every sense."