Syria's President Bashar Assad has conceded that he made mistakes and said no side in his country's civil war is entirely free of blame, according to an interview to be published tomorrow by German magazine Der Spiegel.
The respected Hamburg-based weekly reported that Assad acknowledged "personal mistakes by individuals", though the advance version of the interview released today did not elaborate on what those mistakes might have been.
"We all make mistakes. Even a president makes mistakes," Der Spiegel quoted him as saying. Assad reportedly added that there were "grey tones" as far as the question of blame was concerned.
Assad, whose authoritarian rule prompted protests more than two years ago which evolved into a bloody civil war with more than 100,000 dead, said he did not believe in a negotiated peace with the rebels trying to oust him.
"According to my definition a political opposition isn't armed," he was quoted as saying.
In its announcement about the interview, Der Spiegel did not say when it took place or whether it was face to face.
The magazine reported that Assad had declared a willingness to call elections before his term ends in August, and that he had not yet decided whether to run for the presidency again.
"If I don't have the will of the people behind me then I won't run again," it quoted him as saying.
Asked about the chemical weapons attack near the capital, Damascus, on August 21 which killed hundreds of people, Assad again denied his regime's involvement.
"The picture you're painting of me as someone who kills his own people is (false)," the magazine quoted him as saying.
Western officials, who say there is little doubt that Assad's troops are to blame, "trust al Qaida more than me," the Syrian leader reportedly said.