U.S. Condemns Assad’s Speech

The U.S. and France decried Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s speech on Tuesday—his first since June—in which he blamed the country’s unrest on “foreign planning” and vowed to fight “terrorists with an iron fist.” A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said Assad had thrown “responsibility on everybody but back on himself,” adding that the nearly two-hour-long speech “confirmed our view that it is time for him to step aside.” France's foreign minister concurred that Assad’s rare statement was a “denial of reality.” An Arab League monitoring team has done little to stem violence, which the United Nations estimates has killed more than 5,000 people since security forces began cracking down on demonstrations 10 months ago.