In an interview with ABC News Assad maintained that he was not responsible for the civilian deaths in Syria, saying that no government in the world would kill its people "unless it's led by a crazy person" and said he did not "own" the security forces carrying out the violence.
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State Department Spokesman Mark Toner, reacting to excerpts of the interview, called Assad's views "ludicrous." The remarks triggering a rebuke from Syria's foreign ministry, who accused him of distorting Assad's comments.
On Wednesday, Toner reiterated the US' view that Assad has lost legitimacy and should step down.
"It either says that he's completely lost any power that he had within Syria, that he's simply a tool or that he's completely disconnected with reality," Toner told reporters.
"It's either disconnection, disregard or, as he said, crazy. I don't know," Toner said.
"What we insist is that he has lost all credibility in the eyes of his people and needs to step down," he said.
Toner challenged the Syrian strongman to allow in international monitors to verify his assertions. The Arab League, which has suspended Syria, has been pushing to send in observers.
"Just taking at face value his denial that there's anything going on there," Toner said, "why not let international monitors, human rights monitors – which is what the Arab League is proposing – into Syria as well as international media and allow them to report transparently on what's happening there?"
Anti-Assad rally in Homs (Photo: EPA)
Toner added that there was "a clear campaign against peaceful protesters" and "accountability with that ultimately rests on Assad and his cronies."
White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier said that Assad's views were "not credible."
A statement by National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor, published by Politico, said that "The increase in death and body counts this month highlights that the Syrian government relies increasingly on its security and military apparatus as its only solution in the face of increasing isolation at home and overseas.
"Make no mistake, the increase in armed resistance is Assad’s fault and Assad’s fault alone.”
The "atrocious level of violence" in Syria, he added, leaves no doubt that Assad's regime is "beyond salvation."
The US, he said, continues to "heavily pressure the international community to get on the right side of history, as working toward a democratic transition in Syria is a priority to the administration.
"Momentum is clearly on the side of the Syrian people, as more and more countries take bold steps to isolate and pressure the Assad regime."
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