President Bashar al-Assad called the more than two-year deadly conflict in Syria a “battle of will and resistance,” in remarks published in newspapers on Thursday.
“Today, all of Syria has been wounded,” he was reported as saying on a visit the previous day to an educational centre in the capital.
“But what is happening cannot weaken us, and the battle is one of will and resistance. If we are strong, we will be able to protect the sons of Syria,” he said.
On Wednesday, Assad paid a surprise visit to the Educational Centre for Fine Arts to honour “the families of students who were martyred as a result of terrorist acts, to honour the parents himself,” the presidency said on its official Facebook page.
Media on Thursday reported the embattled Syrian leader as saying the conflict was “firstly a struggle against ignorance.”
“Our message to our enemies is that we will turn Syria into a strong state that battles against ignorance,” he said.
The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict that began with peaceful protests in mid-March 2011 but quickly became an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown on dissent.