BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's president has vowed to rid the country of Muslim extremists whom he blamed for a suicide bombing that killed 42 people, including a top Sunni preacher.
Friday's statement by Bashar Assad came hours after the explosion ripped through a mosque in the heart of Damascus, killing Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti.
It was one of the most stunning assassinations of the two-year civil war and the first time a suicide bomber struck inside a mosque.
Al-Buti was a staunch supporter of Assad. More than 84 were wounded in the attack.
In the statement carried by Syria's state news agency, Assad says al-Buti represented true Islam in facing "the forces of darkness and extremist" ideology.
Assad says his forces will "wipe out" and "clean our country" of the attackers.