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You're reading: Syrian president blames turmoil on ‘conspirators’
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Bashar Assad’s own officials had billed his speech on Wednesday as an introduction of major change and the turnaround infuriated protesters who vowed to keep up with their extraordinary cries for reform.

The conflicting messages also raised questions about a possible rift in one of the Middle East’s most rigid regimes, where Assad and a tight coterie of family and security services hold all the reins power.

"Syria is being subjected to a major conspiracy," Assad said in his first public comments since the turmoil began, touched off by the arrest of several teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall. Human rights groups say more than 60 people have been killed since March 18 as security forces cracked down on the demonstrations.

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