Beirut: President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday said that his government is faced with a foreign plot to destroy Syria, as he addressed parliament for the first time since May 7 elections.

"The masks have fallen and the international role in the Syrian events is now obvious," Assad said, adding that the elections were the perfect response "to the criminal killers and those who finance them".

The embattled leader also paid tribute to civilian and military "martyrs" of the violence in Syria, saying their blood was not shed in vain.

"We are not facing a political problem but a project to destroy the country," Assad said.

He added that there would be "no dialogue" with the opposition "seeking foreign intervention".

Referring to the May 7 elections, he said: "Syria is open to all Syrians regardless of their views but terrorism cannot be part of the political process and we must fight against terrorism to heal the nation."

The Syrian leader stressed that "national security is a red line" and that Syria has "paid dearly until now".

In a discernable reference to the Arab Spring that has swept the region, Assad asserted that: "The Syrian people are intelligent and do not blindly imitate what happens elsewhere."

He added that the "millions" who marched in support of Assad "understood" what the country really needs.

The speech comes after Arab leaders called on the United Nations to act to stop bloodshed that has persisted for nearly 15 months despite a UN-backed peace plan that includes the deployment of nearly 300 observers.

(Agencies)

Latest news from World News Desk