Assad - AP file photo - released 31.7.11
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivering a speech in Damascus, Syria, on June 20, 2011. Photo by AP
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Syrian President Bashar Assad said his country is capable of foiling any conspiracy to undermine its national unity, the state-run news agency SANA reported early Monday.

"Syria is capable of foiling the new chapter in the conspiracy through the awareness of its people and national unity," Assad said in a speech published in the People's Army Magazine to mark the 66th anniversary of the Syrian Arab Army.

SANA quoted Assad as saying that "conspiracies make us stronger, and pressure causes it to adhere more to our standards and rights that cannot be liquidated or marginalized."

The government has blamed the five-month uprising in Syria on "armed gangs" working for some Arab and Western countries.

"The army was a model of commitment to the nation's causes and a defender of its rights, proving to be an impregnable fortress foiling the dreams and suspect plans of enemies," the Syrian president said.

Assad's comments came a few hours after the army stormed the central city of Hama and other villages across the country which resulted in 136 deaths, including 97 in Hama.

The military crackdown came one day before the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on Monday.

Assad said there was a plot to fragment the nation and the region, but "the people who understood the conspiracy forgot that Syria has unique characteristics that make it immune to conspiracies."

"This vicious attack won't fare any better than the previous ones, all of Syria's honest people are confident that we will emerge from the crisis more powerful, more present and more effective regionally and internationally," he said.

Assad reiterated his stance that peace in the region "doesn't mean relinquishing a speck of soil or a drop of water," affirming that the Golan Heights would always belong to Syria. The disputed territory was captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

"We will remain free in our national decision-making and sovereign in our international relations and our resistant course to achieve just and comprehensive peace according to international legitimacy resolutions that stipulate for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied
Arab lands up to the June 4th, 1967 line," he said.

Assad's last address to the nation was on June 20, when he pledged to carry some reforms to quell street protests that started mid-March against his regime.