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They love me: Assad speech gets more angry Syrians onto the streets

Demonstrators hit the streets of Damascus following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's speech in which he insisted his people loved him more than ever.

President Assad blamed the unrest gripping his country on foreign conspirators and Islamic extremists.

But Opposition figure Walid al-Bunni said: "The regime has no realisation that this is a mass street movement demanding freedom and dignity.

"Assad has not said anything to satisfy the families of the 1,400 martyrs or the national aspiration of the Syrian people for the country to become a democracy."

Activists and residents returned to the streets in the suburbs of Damascus as well as in the coastal city of Latakia shortly after Mr Assad's speech.

Addressing Syrians for the first time in more than two months, Mr Assad mixed defiance with the language of conciliation, but the concessions he laid out looked unlikely to end the uprising against him.

Striking a more emollient note than he has done since the crisis erupted more than three months ago, the president acknowledged that many Syrians had legitimate grievances with a government that was blighted by corruption and lack of transparency.

Raising the prospect of far-reaching changes, he again hinted at the possibility of introducing genuine multi-party politics and pledged that a "dialogue" on constitutional reform would be completed within two months, although he did not specify when it would begin.