Syrian president lashes out at 'internal agents'

View photos
This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Tuesday, July 31, 2012, purports to show a man walking past Syrian a military tank in Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad says foreign enemies are using "internal agents" to undermine the country's stability.

Speaking to the army Wednesday on the 67th anniversary of its founding, Assad said the armed forces are the "homeland's shield" against plots by criminal and terrorist gangs.

He said the people see the army as a "source of pride" and a "defender of just causes."

The speech, which was carried by the state news agency but not broadcast on state television, was a rare comment from the president who has kept a low profile during recent fighting in the country's two main cities.

Syria is enmeshed in a 17-month rebellion pitting rebels against the army.