Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defined the country’s two-year conflict as a “battle of will and resistance” in remarks published in newspapers on Thursday, just one day after activist groups reported 140 civilian deaths.
"Today, all of Syria has been wounded," he was reported as saying on a visit the previous day to an educational centre in the capital.
"But what is happening cannot weaken us, and the battle is one of will and resistance. If we are strong, we will be able to protect the sons of Syria," he said.
On Wednesday, Assad paid a surprise visit to the Educational Centre for Fine Arts to honour "the families of students who were martyred as a result of terrorist acts, to honour the parents himself," the presidency announced on its official Facebook page.
Media on Thursday reported the embattled Syrian leader as saying the conflict was "firstly a struggle against ignorance."
"Our message to our enemies is that we will turn Syria into a strong state that battles against ignorance," he said.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph has meanwhile reported that Britain will "airlift chemical weapons detection kits" to Syrian rebels.
The news comes the same day the United Nations announced it would launch a probe into an alleged chemical weapon attack in a village north of Aleppo, which killed 31 people and injured hundreds.
According to the Daily Telegraph report, chemical weapons detection equipment will form part of Britain’s “first shipment of non-lethal equipment since an EU arms embargo was relaxed to allow battlefield supplies.”
Damien McElroy and Jon Swaine said British officials see the provision of chemical weapons suits, equipment that monitors the air and analysis sets as "a key need for the opposition."
"Protective equipment in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stores is very effective for activists engaged against the regime on the ground and if it is known that kits are deployed we judge it less likely that the regime would use it," said an official involved in the planning.
"But if there are chemicals used it will allow the rebels to detect it accurately and the world to react."
Russia has condemned the move.
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has meanwhile told reporters an investigation into Tuesday’s alleged poison gas attack “will start as soon as practically possible.”
Syria’s regime first requested the probe, rejecting calls by France and Britain to widen the scope of the investigation to include another incident reported by rebels in Rif Dimashq.
Regime and opposition forces have continued to trade blame for the attack.
Clashes have continued throughout Thursday in areas across Syria.
Regime warplanes have struck rebel Military Brigade 17 positions in Raqqa, as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) hit regime barracks with rockets in western Daraa.
FSA forces have also taken control of an officers’ club and a science research centre amid heavy fighting in suburbs surround Daraa, a southwestern Syrian city approximately 90 kilometres south of the capital, Damascus.
Over 30 regime troops were killed in clashes while 12 others have reportedly defected to opposition ranks.
An unconfirmed number of women and children have meanwhile been killed and injured in an intense aerial bombardment on Aleppo, while the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus saw renewed fighting.
Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC) reported 140 dead on Wednesday, including nine women and 15 children.
Highest casualty rates were reported in Damascus, Rif Dimashq and Aleppo.
Moscow has meanwhile hit out at a statement made by a US military leader claiming NATO forces would intervene in Syria if requested.
Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov criticised remarks made by Commander of the US European Command (USEUCOM) Admiral James Stavridis who said NATO is “prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya.”
Chizhov called the statement a “strategic mistake.”