DAMASCUS, Syria — President Hafez Assad threatened Friday to deal "two blows for each blow" in response to countries that take economic or military action against Syria over its alleged support of terrorism.
"Our enemies are trying to exert all kinds of pressures against our people," Assad said. "They are threatening us with economic pressure . . . and military aggression.
"We can assure them their effort will be a loser. Economic pressures will not affect our steadfastness and military threats do not frighten us," he said in a speech broadcast nationwide by Syria's state-run television and radio networks.
"We are stronger than any pressures or threats and confident we can foil all Zionist-imperialist plots and deal two blows for each blow to anyone who tries to harm Syria."
Assad, in the strongest reaction from Syria to allegations that it supports terrorist attacks in Europe, did not specify what the Syrian response would be to any Western moves. But he appeared to be preparing his countrymen for possible economic sanctions by Western European nations.
Britain severed relations with Syria on Oct. 24 and urged its allies to follow suit. It claimed to have conclusive evidence that Syrian officials were involved in an unsuccessful attempt April 17 to plant a bomb on an Israeli airliner at London's Heathrow Airport.
The United States, Canada and Belgium recalled their ambassadors from Damascus, a move that falls short of breaking relations.
European Communities' foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in London on Monday to discuss the British evidence against Syria.
Assad delivered his speech on a "voluntary working day," when thousands of Syrians normally off on Friday, Islam's holy day, trooped to work in factories and government departments. Government ministers exhorted workers to step up productivity in the national interest to counter the expected sanctions.