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Al-Arabiya TV reported that Syrian forces’ gunfire killed 31 people on Tuesday

President Bashar Assad’s Tuesday speech was branded by the opposition as incitement to violence, incitement to civil strife and sectarian divisions

Assad vowed Tuesday to respond to threats against him with an “iron hand” and refused to step down, insisting he still has his people’s support despite the 10-month-old uprising against him.

In his first speech since June, Assad repeated claims that a foreign conspiracy and terrorists are behind the unrest — not true reform-seekers.

“Our priority now is to regain security which we basked in for decades, and this can only be achieved by hitting the terrorists with an iron hand,” Assad said in a nearly two-hour speech at Damascus University.

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