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A station aired alleged audiotapes of a phone call between a Saudi extremist and a Syrian rebel about transporting sarin gas and planning other attacks.
Fear of foreign radicals is also a powerful tool for keeping the population's support for the regime. State television gives a steady stream of reports of the "barbaric" nature of the jihadis. One station recently aired an interview with a purported "repentant" female rebel who spoke of jihadi sheiks issuing religious decrees allowing foreign fighters to rape Syrian women.
During his 13 years in power, Assad elevated some Sunnis to prominent positions. Others in the community prize the stability that his rule — while autocratic — ensured in the country.
The sectarian hatreds enflamed by the war. "Syrians were never sectarian," he insisted, recalling carvings of a Jewish menorah, Christian cross and Muslim crescent on buildings in the historic Ottoman marketplaces of his northern city of origin, Aleppo.
We never thought it would reach this point, that we would become like Iraq or Libya. It was unimaginable. No one could conceive of this sort of chaos and bloodshed
Attacks have been on the rise in Iraq since a deadly security crackdown in April on a Sunni protest camp. More than 3,000 people have been killed in violence during the past few months