Speech of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al-Assad, on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day, May 6th, 2015

99 years ago, on May 6th 1916, 21 Syrian and Lebanese nationalists were executed by Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Greater Syria, whose cruelty caused him to be dubbed “the butcher”. The Ottoman Empire was then in steep decline, a process that was accelerated by its alliance with imperial powers during World War I. Since Syria’s independence, this date has been celebrated as “Martyrs’ Day.”
On the occasion of this commemoration, Bashar al-Assad stressed the fact that history is repeating itself: the Turkey of the “Sultan” Erdogan, a megalomaniac whose goal is the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire, is today going against the March of History by openly siding with the Atlanto-Wahhabi terrorists. 
Ankara plays an active role in the international war waged against Syria, providing direct support to Al-Qaeda fighters and the Al-Nosra Front and multiplying acts of war against the Syrian Arab Republic. While the whole international community has recognized that these terrorist movements pose a threat to world peace (if only in their proclamations) and Bashar al-Assad is a key interlocutor, Turkey, along with Israel, remains the last bastion of open support to these terrorist groups and continues to call for the overthrow of the regime.
The Syrian President also referred to the fall of Jisr al-Shughour and Idlib in the hands of Takfirist fighters, to denounce the media propaganda around this event. Far from being a harbinger of the end of the regime, this is only one battle among others, that should not obscure the progress of the Syrian Arab Army, in particular in the strategic region of the Qalamoun area along the Syrian-Lebanese border. All these statements are part of the relentless psychological warfare which for 4 years has been conducted against Syria, and which has constantly predicted the imminent fall of Bashar al-Assad.

Translated by Jenny Bright

My dear and beloved sons and daughters of our glorious and heroic martyrs.
Happy holiday to all !
Officials, teachers, workers, in this school of martyrs children, I wish happy celebrations to you all.
I wanted to be with you today because I am overcome by a great joy every time I meet with the martyrs’ children. I wanted to be on your side if only for a moment during your celebration to mark this occasion which is dear to us all, namely the 6th of May [Martyrs’ Day], which is an opportunity to honour a group of sons and daughters of martyrs, who have chosen to follow in their father’s footsteps, who have joined the armed forces and carry a weapon while walking the same path. 
Public: With our soul, with our blood, we will be faithful to you oh Bashar!
This commemoration is very dear to us because it has broad meanings. Some of these meanings are symbolic, while others are concrete, being linked to commemorations of special events that the homeland, Syria has experienced.
Nearly 100 years ago [6th May 1916], there had been about a century of this, there was a wave of arrests and executions against a group of Syrian patriots, perpetrated by the Ottomans. And these arrests continued for years. The climax came in the year 1916, when they committed the highest number of executions of patriots defending the Syrian people against the oppression of that time. And the crimes were not limited to this group of patriots, but have expanded and affected millions of people, as you know, among the Armenians, Assyrians and other ethnic groups living under the yoke of Ottoman power at that time. And today, these killings are repeated in the same form, with a difference in some means and some names.
At that time, the one who had perpetrated the killings was, as we have all read in our school books, Jamal Pasha (known as) “the Butcher”. And today,  the perpetrator is Erdogan “the Butcher”.
Thus, history repeats itself, as we see, but the symbolic aspect of this celebration is the message of martyrdom. Martyrdom is the most noble message a man can carry anywhere in the world, when defending his country, his cause, his principles. This is a very valuable message to be carried by man. The nobility of this message is not limited only to the martyr who carried it, but extends to all those who have carried the same message after the death of this martyr. And in all certainty, those who are most able to carry this message are the family members of the martyr.
Public: With our soul, with our blood, we will be faithful to you oh Bashar!
Therefore, any exchange, any meeting with any family of martyrs in Syria is an honour for us and for every patriotic Syrian man. How could it be otherwise when you meet a person who is the son of a martyr and joined the armed forces to follow the same path? In all certainty, the honour is multiplied tenfold in these cases.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to win in this fight, to have faith in this message. And the first act of faith is to believe in God, as we all know that He will stand with the truth at the last.
But there is another kind of faith. There is also, firstly, faith in the necessity of fighting for victory. There is faith on the part of society, and confidence in this fighter. When the fighter believes in his cause and his victory, he will give us morale when victorious in any battle, be it only a minor battle. And when we have faith in this fighter, we give him the moral strength ourselves as a society, a people and home, when he loses one battle or another.
Today, we are conducting a war and not a battle. And a war is different from a battle. A war is a collection of many battles. And when we speak of a ruthless war such as that imposed on Syria over a distance of thousands of kilometres of borders, and thousands of square kilometres inside Syria, we’re talking about not dozens, not hundreds but thousands of battles. And it is natural, with such battles, in such numbers and in such conditions – and this is the nature of all battles – that operations include advances and retreats, victories and defeats, ups and downs. Everything can fluctuate, except one thing, as I recalled, and that is faith in our fighters, and the faith of our fighters in the inevitability of victory.
That is why when we suffer a setback, we must do our duty as a society, namely providing morale to the army and not always waiting for the army to bring it to us. It is a reciprocal interaction which must be permanent, unlike those who are now trying to generalise the spirit of disappointment and despair because of a setback suffered here or there, or because they submit to external propaganda.
This propaganda campaign that was launched recently was renewed after failing two years ago. Remember that at the beginning of the crisis, such a campaign lasted a year, two years or a little less, but it ultimately failed, despite the fact that conditions were so difficult, and many Syrians did not know what was actually happening. But the financiers, organizers, politicians and media relentlessly involved in this campaign have taken refuge in their lairs. They have now reappeared because they have seen that there is currently fertile ground for some people in this country.
Therefore, patriotism does not consist simply of verbal statements. Patriotism must be accompanied by courage. I cannot simply call myself a patriot, without fulfilling the necessary requirements. 
And we must distinguish anxiety from fear. We are all worried about our homeland. Not just for now, not only during crises, but permanently, as long as this country will be the target of the ambitions of different countries, as it has been throughout its history. And we must distinguish wisdom from cowardice. Many people determine wisdom or cowardice according to what is expected by some other people. Such views are not acceptable, and we cannot act in such a contradictory way.
War consists of victories and defeats, and it currently has fighters who kill and crush many terrorists on the front lines, and had they been afraid, they would not have accomplished these actions. They fight and go forward. Some of them fight and win victories by their perseverance, and some of them fight and retreat when circumstances dictate. That is why we must arm ourselves against those who are demoralized and discouraged during the battle, as psychological defeat is the final defeat. But I have no worries on the subject. As the first campaign failed at the beginning of the crisis, this campaign will fail and there is no need for us to worry.
But this should not blind us to the fact that the start of discouragement leads to defeat, but we do not see it as being an appropriate response. And the response is here : it is in you, men and women, O brave and heroic fighters who have chosen to walk on this path.
Public: God, Syria, Bashar and nothing else!
You are the response to this campaign, and you’re the remedy for those who are afraid. When a state, non-governmental or private organisation honours those who are on the same path as you, it is because they want to convey, through you, their sincere greetings and shake hands with all your fellows, all the children of martyrs who now number in the hundreds, who followed the footsteps of their fathers in military schools or on the front lines. They want, through you, to greet all the families of martyrs, wounded still alive and all their families, while fighting on the front line. They want to salute all brave fighters who persevered through hard battles, who fought under siege. 
These heroic battles did not start during the fighting in Aleppo prisons, and they will not end with the siege of the hospital at Jisr al-Choughour. The first ones have waited until the arrival of the army, they have endured and overcome, and they continued the battle with her. And now, God willing, the army soon will reach the besieged heroes at al-Jisr Choughour hospital to continue the battle to defeat terrorism.
Therefore, through you, we transmit to all those who are like you our greetings, our love, our respect and consideration. And we affirm that our confidence in you is very high. And we declare to all combatants and heroes that our affection for you knows no bounds.
Again, happy celebrations to all, and peace be upon you.
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