Syrian President Bashar Assad said the media was largely responsible for hostilities against the regime in Damascus, as he cast his vote along with his wife Asma in a national referendum many in the West have labeled a "sham."
Syrian state TV showed footage of the Syrian president struggling to reach the ballot box but hindered by flocks of cheering employees. The pleasant atmosphere followed Assad, who has been battling an increasingly militant opposition for nearly a year, into the ballot box where he voted behind a closed curtain.
Addressing a crowd after the vote, Assad declared that "the attack on us is a media assault," the British Telegraph website quoted the Syrian president as saying.
"It is true the media is important, but it does not beat reality," he said, praising Syrian official news as "the best" in comparison with other countries.
Assad was likely referring to what officials in Damascus have claimed are attempts by foreign countries, including Arab nations, to manipulate the events in Syria in favor of the opposition.