|President al-Assad at German ARD (DW)
Bashar al-Assad: The President Shouldn't Run Away
(DP-News - agencies)
Germany- Speaking to German television channel Das Erste on July 5th, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave his view of the uprising against him, his regime and crackdown on dissent.
International press reports on Monday indicated that President al-Assad refused to step down, saying he was staying put to deal with the "challenge" Syria is facing.
"The president shouldn't run away from challenge and we have a national challenge now in Syria," President al-Assad said in English.
"The president shouldn't escape the situation, but from the other side you can stay as president, stay in this position only when you have the public support," he added.
Regarding Syrian dissent, President al-Assad said the rebels were a "mixture" of al-Qaeda and "outlaws" and he said Damascus had captured "tens" of al-Qaeda fighters from "maybe Tunisia and Libya, so I think".
Al-Assad also accused such "gangs" of carrying out the massacre in the town of Houla in Homs province in which at least 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed.
The Syrian President rejected the suggestion that his soldiers were behind the widespread killings of civilians. Asked about a massacre in the central town of Houla in May, when more than 100 people were killed, President al-Assad said this was part of a plot by his armed opponents to discredit his government.
"They committed a crime, they published videos, faked videos and they wear soldier uniforms, our army uniforms in order to say 'that was the army,'" the Syrian president said. Those killed were actually "government supporters," al-Assad added.
But, an investigation conducted by United Nations officials pointed the finger for the Houla massacre at government forces, the press reports added while commenting on President al-Assad on Monday.
Rebels and Syrian regime blamed each other for the massacre but the United Nations Security Council condemned Damascus.
"Gangs came in hundreds from outside the city, not from inside the city and they attacked the city and they attacked the law enforcement unit inside the city," said President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian President al-Assad claimed they were wearing army uniforms "just to accuse our government".
"That happened many times. They committed a crime, they published videos, faked videos and they wear soldier uniforms, our army uniforms, in order to say 'that was the army'," he added.
Asked who he believed was giving most support to the rebels, President al-Assad said Saudi Arabia and Qatar had publicly declared "that they support those terrorists".
He also accused Turkey of offering "logistic support for smuggling".
In general, the majority of the victims of the conflict have been government supporters, President al-Assad said.
When asked what was the role of the United States in the conflict; President al-Assad replied “It’s part of the conflict. They offered an umbrella and political support to those gangs, to create instability, to destabilise Syria.”
President al-Assad said US political support for "terrorists" was hindering the peace envoy's plan to end 16 months of bloodshed.
Asked whether he was accusing Washington of being partly responsible for the death of innocent Syrian civilians, President al-Assad replied: "Of course. Exactly"
"As long as you offer any kind of support to terrorists, you are partner. Whether you send them armaments or money or public support, political support in the United Nations, anywhere," said al-Assad.
President al-Assad added that he would not rule out negotiations with Washington "We never close our doors in front of any country in this world and any official as long as they want to help in solving the problem in Syria, providing that they are serious and honest."
Moreover, al-Assad said that dialogue with opposition groups was "a strategic option", but he asserted "You cannot keep just making dialogue while they are killing your people and your army."
Syrian President also accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of supplying the rebels trying to overthrow him with arms and other logistical support.
According to the Syrian leader, Saudi Arabia and Qatar supply the rebels with weapons, and Turkey, in turn, "provides logistical support to the smuggling."
President al-Assad's comments came as UN and Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan arrived Sunday in Damascus for talks with the Syrian leadership over his six-point plan for peace.
"We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan," President al-Assad told German TV Das Erste.
"The main obstacle is that many countries do not even want to see it successfully implemented, so they offer political support to terrorists and continue to supply Syria with weapons and money," President al-Assad added, according to a transcript in German of the interview conducted in English.
The Syrian President said Annan plan "shouldn't fail" and that the international envoy was doing a "difficult but good job".
But he said the plan had failed to stop bloodshed because "many countries don't want it to succeed".
"So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria. They want it to fail in this way," President al-Assad added.
Meanwhile, Syria's navy fired live missiles from ships and helicopters over the weekend, in an exercise aimed at demonstrating its ability to "defend Syria's shores against any possible aggression" according to the official state media news.