Damascus: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
on Sunday defended his security forces` deadly crackdown on
anti-regime protests as the "duty of state" to confront
"Syria is on the path to reforms," he said, quoted by
state news agency SANA.
"To deal with outlaws who cut off roads, seal towns and
terrorise residents is a duty of the state which must defend
security and protect the lives of civilians," he said in a
meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur.
His statement came the day after a personal appeal by UN
chief Ban Ki-moon for Assad to halt the bloodshed.
Ban in a telephone call "expressed his strong concern and
that of the international community at the mounting violence
and death toll in Syria over the past days," UN spokesman
Martin Nesirky said late Saturday.
The Secretary General "reflected to the Syrian President
the clear message sent by the (UN) Security Council and urged
the President to stop the use of military force against
civilians immediately," Nesirky said.
Ban`s call followed a pledge by the US, French and German
leaders to consider new steps to punish Syria after security
forces killed more than 30 people on the first Friday of
Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting.