'Syrian assault on Hama enters 2nd day, 4 killed'

After tanks storm central city, killing 80, residents say regime forces renew attacks; Assad claims conspiracy plotted to fragment Syria.

Hama 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hama 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian tanks shelled a northeastern district in the city of Hama on Monday, killing at least four civilians, two residents said, in the second day of a major military assault to crush protests demanding the toppling of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The assault began on Sunday, when Syrian tanks firing shells and machine guns stormed Hama, killing at least 80 civilians.
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Assad’s forces began their assault on the city of some 700,000 people – also the scene of a 1982 government massacre – at dawn after besieging it for nearly a month. The state news agency said the military entered Hama to purge armed groups “shooting intensively to terrorize citizens.”
In a speech published in the People's Army magazine, Assad claimed that a "conspiracy was carefully plotted to fragment Syria," pan-Arab website Albawaba reported.
The embattled leader claimed that the Syrian people would overcome the plot and begin enacting comprehensive reforms.
Assad stated that the unrest in the country would not cause him to relenquish the demand that Israel return the Golan Heights to Syria.
"Hardships make us more resilient, conspiracies make us stronger, and pressure causes us to adhere more to our standards and rights that cannot be liquidated or marginalized," he  said.