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No regrets. Assad Photo: Reuters
No regrets. Assad Photo: Reuters
 
Anti-Assad protest in Damascus Photo: Reuters
Anti-Assad protest in Damascus Photo: Reuters
 
 

Assad: No regrets for now

Syrian president gives rare interview to Russian TV; denies his country is ravaged by civil war; says 'Erdogan thinks he's new sultan of the Ottoman'

News agencies
Published: 11.09.12, 10:56 / Israel News

Syrian President Bashar Assad denied his army is killing Syrian people in an exclusive interview to the Russian RT television channel aired on Friday.

 

RT said the interview was prerecorded the day before, on Thursday, in the Syrian capital Damascus.

 

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"The problem is not between me and the people; I do not have a problem with the people because the United States is against me and the West is against me and many other Arab countries, including Turkey which is not Arab of course, are against me.

 

"If the Syrian people are against me, how can I be here?!" Assad said in the interview.  

 

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Video: Reuters

He denied he had lost support of the Syrian people: "If the whole world, or let us say a big part of the world, including your people, are against you, are you a superman?! You are just a human being. So, this is not logical. It is not about reconciling with the people and it is not about reconciliation between the Syrians and the Syrians; we do not have a civil war.

 

"It is about terrorism and the support coming from abroad to terrorists to destabilize Syria. This is our war," Assad said.

 

He also denied allegations that the Syrian government forces had committed any war crimes against civilians and said that the Syrian army has not been killing Syrian people.

 

"If you have an army that committed a crime against its own people, this is devoid of logic because the Syrian Army is made up of Syrian people."

 


Not war, 'terrorism.' Homs in ruins (Photo: Reuters) 

 

"If you want to commit a crime against your people, then the army will divide, will disintegrate. So, you cannot have a strong army while you are killing your people. Third, the army cannot withstand for twenty months in these difficult circumstances without having the embrace of the public in Syria.

 

"So, how could you have this embracement while you are killing your people?! This is a contradiction. So, this is the answer," Assad said.

 

In short excerpts released by RT, Assad also said he would "live and die" in Syria and warned that any Western invasion to topple him would have catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and beyond.

 

Assad's defiant remarks coincided with a landmark meeting in Qatar on Thursday of Syria's fractious opposition to hammer out an agreement on a new umbrella body uniting rebel groups inside and outside Syria, amid growing international pressure to put their house in order and prepare for a post-Assad transition.

 

The Syrian leader, battling a 19-month old uprising against his rule, appeared to reject an idea floated by British Prime Minister David Cameron  on Tuesday that a safe exit and foreign exile for the London-educated Assad could end the civil war.

 

In a full interview broadcast on Friday Assad also said that no Western leader had spoken to him since the war began.

 

Speaking of the now-rocky relations with Turkey, once one of Syria's closet allies, Assad said: "The Turkish people need good relations with the Syrian people.

 

"Erdogan thinks that if Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region and especially in Syria, he can guarantee his political future, this is one reason. The other reason, he personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella.

 

"In his heart he thinks he is a caliph. These are the main two reasons for him to shift his policy from zero problems to zero friends."

 

Asked about the opposition his actions are meeting within the Arab world, the Syrian president said that, "The majority of Arab governments support Syria in their heart but they do not dare to say that explicitly (because) they are under pressure by the West."

 

Reuters contributed to this report

 

 

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