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“When they carry out bombings and assassinations, are they defending themselves?” he asked.

He admitted mistakes on the part of the authorities, but said the Syrian government responded early on to the demands of reform. Instead, he blamed the opposition, which he said refused to talk.

“It takes two to tango,” he said. “In the end, we have no choice but to sit around the same table.”

Makdissi said the opposition lacked any kind of vision or alternate plan to the current regime.

“They want to take Syria toward the unknown,” he said.

He dismissed the decision by the Palestinian militant Islamic movement, Hamas, to pull its operations out of Syria and the group’s recent criticism of the Assad regime as a “detail.” The spokesman said the Syrian regime will continue to support the Palestinian cause.

A senior Hamas official said Monday that Hamas has left its longtime base in Syria because of the regime’s crackdown on opponents there.

“Our position on Syria is that we are not with the regime in its security solution, and we respect the will of the people,” Moussa Abu Marzouk said from his new base in Cairo.

Syria has long been criticized by the West for aiding and sheltering members of Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups, a stance that gives it legitimacy and prestige in the Arab world while also letting it subvert neighboring Israel. The decision by Hamas to pull out of Syria is a sign of the regime’s increasing isolation.