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Assad denies ordering killings

Syria's president has denied he ordered the deadly crackdown against anti-government protesters, claiming he was not in charge of the troops.

Bashar Assad maintained he did not give a command "to kill or be brutal."

"They're not my forces," Assad responded when asked if Syrian troops had cracked down too hard on protesters.

"They are military forces (who) belong to the government. I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country." he told America's ABC.

In fact, in his role as president, Assad is the commander of Syria's armed forces.

The UN estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March.

"Who said the United Nations is a credible institution?" Assad said, when asked about allegations of widespread violence and torture.

Assad has responded with once-unthinkable promises of reform in one of the most authoritarian states in the Middle East. But he simultaneously unleashed the military to crush the protests with tanks and snipers.

Still, he insisted he still had the support of Syrians.

"If you don't have the support of the people you cannot be in this position," he said. "Syria is not easy ... it is a very difficult country to govern if you don't have the public support."

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