Syria war still not won but West's plots foiled: Assad

The Fair, the most important event in economic of Syria before the war and one of the oldest in the arab world, has reopened its doors Thursday.

The alert was removed shortly afterwards, and a reporter broadcasting live from the fair interviewed several officials who made no mention of the rocket fire or casualties.

Shortly after Assad gave his speech, a shell hit the first global fair in the country since the war began six years ago, killing and wounding several people.

Triggered by the repression of peaceful protests, the conflict in Syria has become more complicated over the years with the involvement of foreign countries and of groups jihadists, on a territory fragmented.

The Damascus International Fair being held in the southern outskirts of the capital was opened last week for the first time since the summer of 2011, only months after countrywide unrest erupted.

"Let's be clear. There will be no security cooperation nor opening of embassies or even a role for some countries that say that they want to play a role in ending the crisis in Syria before they clearly and frankly cut their relations with terrorism", Assad said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about a dozen people had been injured in addition to the five dead.

France has been a leading backer of the Syrian opposition since 2011, and has regularly called for Assad's departure.

Syria's war has left more than 330,000 people dead and has displaced millions more.

The Syrian president said his country's economy is turning to growth again "at a very slow pace, although we are under an nearly complete embargo".

Several Arab and Western countries also withdrew their diplomats from Damascus.

The United States and European countries, which have imposed sanctions on Assad's government, were not officially invited to participate in the fair, which was first held in 1954.

Assad said recent deals to de-escalate violence in Syria are good to reduce the bloodletting but vowed not to give the opposition in politics what it failed to gain through arms.

It was touted as a sign that work towards rebuilding Syria and revitalizing its ravaged economy was getting under way, despite the violence that continues in parts of the country.


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