Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Regime in no danger, says Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad has insisted his regime is in no danger of collapse (AP/Sana)

Syrian President Bashar Assad has insisted his regime is in no danger of collapse and warned against any foreign military intervention in his country as the regime tries to crush a five-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.

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.

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 last night, former ally Turkey called Syria's situation "unsustainable".

On Sunday, Assad brushed off US 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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