Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday his regime was in no danger of collapse and warned against any foreign military intervention in his country as the regime tries to crush a 5-month-old popular uprising.
In his fourth public appearance since the revolt against his family's 40-year rule erupted in mid-March, Assad insisted that security forces were making inroads against the uprising.
"It may seem dangerous ... but in fact we are able to deal with it," he told state-run TV in a 40-minute interview. It was the first time he has agreed to take any questions, although the state-owned network is a mouthpiece for the regime.
The Syrian leader has come under mounting criticism over the brutal military offensive that has used tanks, snipers and gunboats to try to crush the uprising. Most recently, the United States and its European allies on Thursday demanded he step down. Late Saturday, former ally Turkey called Syria's situation "unsustainable."
Human rights groups and witnesses accuse Syrian troops of firing on largely unarmed protesters and say more than 2,000 people have been killed.
In the interview, Assad also said he expected a parliamentary election to be held in February 2012, along with a series of reforms that would let political groups other than his Baath party to participate.
Assad's remarks were unlikely to have much resonance with Syria's opposition, which says it has lost all confidence Assad's overtures for reform while his security forces open fire on peaceful protesters.
The interview was similar in tone and contents to other speeches he gave in the past few months in which he tried to portray confidence, stressing Syrian sovereignty and insisting the unrest was being driven by a foreign conspiracy.
On Sunday, Assad brushed off President Barack Obama's condemnation, saying it has "no value."
"I am not worried about the security situation right now, we can say the security situation is better," he said.
He warned against Libya-style military intervention, saying there will be "repercussions" to any country interfering in Syria's affairs. There have been no serious international plans to launch such an operation, in part because the opposition has said it does not want Western countries to interfere.
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