Syrians rally in support of Assad
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad take part in a pro-government rally in Damascus on October 12, 2011.
More than one million Syrians have rallied in the capital, Damascus, in support of President Bashar al-Assad and his reform program.
Waving Syrian flags and pictures of Assad, hundreds of thousands of government supporters converged in a main square in the capital on Wednesday to show the level of support that the Syrian president enjoys.
''The army and people with you, Bashar al-Assad" and "Syria is our country and Assad our president," read some banners held by demonstrators.
Demonstrators also condemned foreign interference in their county's internal affairs and called for national unity.
''Today's rally is a message for the West and the Arab World to let them know that the president is legitimate,'' said a demonstrator, adding that ''Assad represents economic and security stability. He's our guardian. We don't know how the next president will be.''
Demonstrators also thanked Russia and China for blocking a UN Security Council resolution against Syria.
The rally, which was huge in comparison with recent anti-government gatherings in the country, also aimed to denounce the "Syrian National Council (SNC)," an umbrella body formally set up on October 2, pulling together most of the groups opposing the Syrian leader.
''We support our leader and we do love him,'' Lamia Kinani, 50, a housewife, told the Associated Press, adding that the newly formed opposition SNC does not represent Syrians.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March and hundreds of people, including security forces, have been killed in the violence.
While the opposition and Western countries accuse security forces of being behind the killings, the government blames outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups for the deadly violence, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.