Syrian president in address to parliament says country's unrest has taken bloody toll but defends government's actions.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the country is engaged in a "real war" with outside forces and defended political reforms implemented by his government in an address to the parliament in Damascus.
Speaking on Sunday for the first time since last month’s parliamentary elections , Assad said that he would not be lenient on those he blamed for violence in the country.
"We have to fight terrorism for the country to heal," Assad said. "We will not be lenient. We will be forgiving only for those who renounce terrorism.''
Assad's remarks defied mounting international condemnation of his regime's crackdown on the opposition. He blamed the crisis on outside forces and said the country was passing through its most critical stage since the end of colonialism.
"The masks have fallen and the international role in the Syrian events is now obvious," Assad said, adding that the elections had been the perfect response "to the criminal killers and those who finance them".
Assad admitted the country’s unrest had taken a “bloody toll” and exhausted assets, but said outside forces were responsible.
"Terrorism has undermined us all," he said. "It is a real war waged from outside and dealing with a war is different to dealing with the grievances of Syrian citizens."
He added that there would be "no dialogue" with opposition factions "seeking foreign intervention".
In the speech, Assad blamed terrorists for the recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, which opposition activists said was committed by pro-government forces.
Survivor describes Syria's Houla massacre
At least 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were slaughtered in killings that began on May 25 and continued the next day, triggering international outrage.
"What happened in Houla and elsewhere [in Syria] are brutal massacres which even monsters would not have carried out," Assad said.
Assad said Syria had implemented clear steps towards introducing political reforms in the country and held parliamentary elections on time, despite violence in the country.
"Our country will recover and our citizens will enjoy peace, stability and sovereignty," he said.
He said the staging of the ballot had been a “clear message to those who want Syria to sink in the blood of its citizens”.
"The political process is moving forward, yet terrorism is not going down," Assad said. "Terrorists are not interested in dialogue or reform."
Assad's speech comes a day after Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, said that the country was slipping into all-out war.
“The spectre of an all-out war, with an alarming sectarian dimension, grows by the day," Annan, told an Arab League meeting in Qatar.
On Saturday, violence in Syria killed 89 people, including 57 soldiers, the largest number of casualties the military has suffered in a single day since an uprising began in March 2011, a watchdog said.
The casualties also included 29 civilians and three army defectors killed in various parts of the country in shelling by security forces or in clashes or gunfire, said the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
As Arab leaders called for UN action in Syria, France, which spearheaded an air assault against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces last year, said it had not ruled out the possibility of military intervention in the country.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said on Sunday that France had "not excluded military intervention" in Syria, but would only take action under a UN mandate
Can genetics find a 'cure' for ageing and, therefore, dying, or will humans, like other organisms, always be at the mercy of nature? By Tim RadfordOrganisms grow old because nature doesn't need them any more. If the purpose of life is to procreate and replicate successfully - this is the logic of the so-called selfish gene theory - then it helps to stay healthy long enough to generate children and provide them with food. Immortality arrives with your offspring, and is only guaranteed when all your children also have children.
Different species place their bets on life's roulette wheel in different ways. If you're an oyster or a salmon or a fruit fly, the process is over quickly enough: lay a huge number of eggs somewhere safely and die. If you're a tigress or a dolphin, the process isn't so simple: you have to bear the young, rear them, provide food on a daily basis and guide them to maturity. If you are a human, you get a little bit of extra grace: you can be useful to your grandchildren, so there is some evolutionary pressure to stay alive that little bit longer. And then there's the bonus: being human, you have all the resources of society and technology to keep you safe from predators and healthy and active for just a bit longer.
But sooner or later, the biological clock begins to run down. Cells that had faithfully renewed themselves begin to fail. A heart that pounded away in perfect synchrony begins to run down after a couple of billion beats. Joints that withstood rugby, football, rock'n'roll and the gymnasium treadmill start to creak. Skin that bloomed in the spring sunshine begins to weather and flake in life's autumn. Brains shrink, spines curve, eyes begin to fail, hearing goes, organs become cancerous, bones begin to crumble and memory perishes.
Ageing seems inevitable but, for some scientists, it isn't obvious why this process is inexorable. Human chromosomes seem to arrive with their own lifespan timing devices called telomeres, but precisely why and how telomeres are linked to ageing is still not understood. There are genes that seem to to dictate survival rates in fruit flies, nematode worms and mice, and these genes almost certainly exist in humans, but what works in an insect or even another mammal may not be much help to a human anxious to hang around a bit longer. Even so, in the last half of the 20th century, life expectancies were increasing everywhere in the developed and developing world, wherever there was appropriate sanitation, nutrition, education and medical care; and small groups of scientists had begun to ask whether life could be extended indefinitely.
Clues to survival
A much larger group was prepared to ask a simpler question: could a healthy, active, enjoyable life be extended a bit longer? Quite how this can be done - in the individuals or in society as a whole - is not so easily answered, but epidemiological and biochemical research has begun to produce some clues to survival. These are, in no particular order:
Be at the top. Research in Japan, the US and Britain has confirmed that social status is linked to health and lifespan. Top civil servants outlive their deputies. Oscar-winning film stars on average live four years longer than ordinary Hollywood actors. The same is true for queen bees, which live 10 times longer than worker bees.
Be British. Better still, be Japanese. British people in the more comfortable echelons of society tend to have lower rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer than their American counterparts, even though they spend less on healthcare. The Japanese, of course, do even better.
Choose your ancestors carefully: There are genes that control ageing. Nobody knows exactly what they are or how they work, but you stand a much better chance of being a centenarian if you have a sibling who has made it to 100. Exceptional longevity runs in families. So it is part of inheritance.
Eat wisely: Forget about superfoods, but watch what you eat. Rats, mice and other creatures with restricted calorie intakes survive longer than their sated siblings. What works for mice may not work for humans, but there is no doubt that overeating multiplies health hazards.
The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake 150 feet deep and 700 feet below sea level. Technically it is a lake, but the Hebrew yam can mean either a freshwater lake or a proper sea. Surrounding cities include Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Hippos. The Hebrew name is Kinneret, from the Hebrew word for harp (kinnor), a reference its harp shape.
What are some names for the Sea of Galilee?:
The Sea of Galilee has been known under a number of different names, including:
Sea of Chinnereth Lake of Gennesaret
Lake of Tarichaeae
Sea of Tiberias
Where is the Sea of Galilee?:
The Sea of Galilee is located in the region of Galilee of northern Israel and is part of the Syro-African rift, a major geological fault line that runs from Turkey in the north to Africa in the south.
The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan River in the north which then continues out in the south. It 15 miles long, 8 miles across at its widest, and serves as a natural boundary between the Jewish Galilee to the west and Gentile areas (such as the Decaoplis) to the east.
Why is the Sea of Galilee important?:
The region around the Sea of Galilee is characterized by abundant water and rich soil, making it a good location for agriculture. Fishing has always been a major industry. Human habitation dates back for millennia and it may have been an early settlement point for hominids migrating out of Africa. Despite the Jewish character of those to the west and Gentile character of those to the east, archaeological evidence indicates a great deal of continuity of lifestyles for all those living on the shores, regardless of religion.
The Sea of Galilee features prominently in the gospel stories about Jesus. According to the gospel authors, much of Jesus’ ministry took place in towns and villages around Galilee — especially Capernaum and Bethsaida. Because of the high surrounding hills, violent thunderstorms can suddenly strike, something recorded in the gospel stories. The pattern of high hills and narrow shore lines is broken at the northwest corner where the fertile plain of Gennesar meets the lake.