This content is not available in your region

'Syria not in civil war' - Assad

'Syria not in civil war' - Assad
Text size Aa Aa

Another building in Damascus goes up in smoke, this one a mosque.

The pro- and anti-government forces fighting in Syria still appear far from breaking the deadlock, with bombings and door-to-door fighting in the dense cities and around them.

Two days ago British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the man at the centre of it all could be allowed safe passage out if that would guarantee the fighting stopped.

Now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a rare interview – with Russian television – has said this is not a civil war, and he is determined to stay.

Assad said: “The problem is not between me and the people; I do not have a problem with the people because the United States is against me and the West is against me and many Arab countries, including Turkey – which is not Arab of course – are against me. If the Syrian people are against me, how can I be here?!”

Assad says he’s not like other countries’ leaders swept away by Arab Spring uprisings.

“I’m not a puppet, I wasn’t made by the West to go to the West or any other country. I’m Syrian, I’m made in Syria and I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.”

Townspeople in the north, meanwhile, claim that Assad’s forces have used cluster bombs there. If confirmed, this would constitute a war crime, as this is an internationally banned weapon.

The rebels use homemade hand grenades and other improvised explosive devices. Syria’s opposition has pleaded for international backers to equip its forces.

But information has emerged which suggests that the official forces of Damascus are not the only ones perpetrating atrocities, but also maverick rebel fighters.

Video footage has been coming out of Syria – awaiting independent verification – showing either unarmed prisoners or others being murdered.