DAMASCUS - The Syrian army is engaged in a "crucial and heroic battle," President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday in a speech published by official media agency SANA on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the army.
"The army is engaged in a crucial and heroic battle... on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests. The enemy is among us today, using agents to destabilise the country, the security of its citizens... and continues to exhaust our economic and scientific resources," he said.
"They (the enemy) wanted to deprive the people of their national decision... but they were astonished to see these proud people, who confronted their plans and defeated them," said Assad.
"My trust in you is great, and the trust of our people in you that you are ... the defender of its just causes," Assad said
"You men of the country... you have demonstrated, in dealing with the war waged against our country by the terrorist gangs, that you possess an iron will and a keen awareness."
"Our military remains the backbone of the motherland," Assad said.
Assad pushed his armed forces to redouble their efforts. "Today you are invited to increase your readiness and willingness for the armed forces to be the shield, wall and fortress of our nation," he said.
Damascus does not recognise the popular revolt that erupted in March 2011, describing opposition activists and rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alike as "armed terrorist groups" financed by foreign powers and sent to sow chaos.
Assad's speech comes as clashes escalate in a number of areas including Aleppo, where the FSA on Tuesday announced that it had captured three police stations in the heart of the country's commercial capital.
A Damascus security source said the offensive, which the army launched on Saturday to recapture rebel-held areas, looked likely to last for "several weeks."