A fighter from the Sadik unit of Free Syrian Army's Tahrir al Sham brigade aims his rifle in Mleha suburb of Damascus January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Damascus - Syria's Defence Minister Fahd al-Freij said on Monday that the country will defeat a conspiracy against it and overcome “terrorist gangs,” state television reported.

“Syria is the only country that works for the liberation of Palestine and the occupied Arab states, therefore an Zionist and American-led plot has been hatched with the financing of some Arab regimes in favor of Israel,” said Freij.

“We are now tackling this conspiracy, which will fail, and we will defeat each of these schemes and plots against our beloved Syria,” he said during a military formation inspection.

“For the last two years, the army has inflicted massive losses on the armed terrorist gangs sent by the conspirators and their scheming hosts inside Syria, and we will continue to pursue these gangs throughout the country until the final victory.”

The minister praised the high morale displayed by the army in its fight against the “terrorists”.

Since the outbreak of the 22-month conflict, Syrian authorities have used the word “terrorist” as a blanket term for those who oppose the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

In a rare speech on January 6, Assad gave no hint of any readiness to step down, saying the first condition for any transition would be for Western governments to stop backing the armed opposition and for it to cease its “terrorist attacks”.

The anti-regime revolt, which broke out in March 2011 as a peaceful uprising and morphed into an armed insurgency under brutal repression, has left more than 60,000 people killed according to the UN, the majority civilians. - Sapa-AFP