As his forces poured shells into the city of Homs Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad got up on a soapbox to say his country was facing “a war from abroad.” Homs has been a center of antigovernment opposition during the 14-month popular uprising against Assad’s regime. “Dealing with it [the foreign threat] is different from dealing with people inside,” Assad said. In a 70-minute speech, Assad told those opposed to the government to “drop their weapons at once, and the government will not seek revenge now or later.” On Saturday United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan said that the “specter of all-out civil war” loomed over Syria. Assad also denied Sunday that his government had a role in the Houla massacre that left more than 100 Syrians dead.
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