Assad offer of Syrian multi-party elections branded laughable by US

Crackdown against opposition continues as president promises referendum on new constitution

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered to hold multi-party elections within four months.

Under world pressure to end a crackdown that has cost at least 6,000 lives, Assad promised a referendum in two weeks’ time on a new constitution, leading to elections within 90 days.

Opposition figures spurned the offer and the US called it “laughable”.

Assad made clear, however, he was still intent on crushing the uprising with tanks and troops.

Opposition activists said the military unleashed a new offensive in Hama, a city with a bloody history of resistance to Assad’s late father, Hafez al-Assad, using anti-aircraft guns mounted on armoured vehicles.

Artillery shelled parts of Homs for the 13th day in a row. In Damascus, troops backed by armour swept into the Barzeh district, searching houses and making arrests, witnesses said. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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