6 Jan 2013

Syria's al-Assad to give rare TV address

10:04 pm on 6 January 2013

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to give a rare speech to the nation as he continues to battle an uprising against his rule.

With insurgents fighting their way closer to the seat of his power, the state news agency Sana says he will speak about "the latest developments in Syria and the region".

The BBC reports the public comments will be his first since November when he told Russian television he would live and die in Syria.

Since then, opposition fighters have strengthened their hold on swathes of territory across northern Syria, launched an offensive in the central province of Hama and endured weeks of bombardment to dislodge them from the outer neighbourhoods of Damascus.

The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising against President Assad, which began in March 2011.

Syria's war has proved the longest and bloodiest of the conflicts that arose out of popular uprisings in Arab countries over the past two years and led to the downfall of autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.