The legitimate demands of protesters are not "an excuse to cause chaos," Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday during his third speech to the nation since the uprising in Syria began.
"Religious extremists have penetrated Syria," Assad said. "They have jumped on every opportunity to spread chaos in the name of freedom."
"In Maarat al-Numaan they tried to take over areas, and the security service had to be involved to liberate the area," he said in reference to recent violence in Syria's northwestern area.
Commenting on Syrian protesters' demands for reforms, the Syrian president said, "What is happening today has nothing to do with reforms, what's happening is terrorism."