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Syria's Assad refuses to flee: 'I'll live and die in Syria'

The beleaguered Syrian president is defiant, telling Russian TV: “I am not a puppet, I was not made by the West”.

Image: RT screengrab

A DEFIANT SYRIAN PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad has rejected calls that he seek a safe exit, vowing he will “live in Syria and die in Syria” and warning the world cannot afford the cost of a foreign intervention.

“I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country,” Assad said in English in an interview with Russian state-backed Russia Today (RT) television.

“I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria,” he said, according to transcripts posted on RT’s website.

David Cameron had floated the idea of granting Assad safe passage from the country earlier this week, saying it “could be arranged,” although he wanted him to face international justice.

Assad, who has made only rare public statements in recent months, also warned against a foreign intervention in Syria’s escalating conflict, saying such a move would have global consequences and shake regional stability.

“We are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region… it will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” the transcript said.

In a separate video extract of the interview, Assad added: “The price of this invasion, if it happens, is going to be big, more than the whole world can afford.”

Many in Syria’s opposition, including rebels waging fierce battles with pro-regime forces, have urged world powers to intervene to stop the escalating bloodshed.

Fighting continues as Red Cross struggles

Fighting continued around the country today, as the Red Cross said it was struggling to cope with Syria’s worsening humanitarian crisis.

Heavy clashes for control of the mainly Kurdish northeastern town of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border killed 16 soldiers and 10 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Turkish media reported that two Turks were wounded by bullets fired from across the border amid the fighting.

Fresh violence also broke out in the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Qadam and in Mazzeh in the west of the capital, said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and medics on the ground.

It said at least 86 people were killed on Thursday, including 38 soldiers.

The Observatory says more than 37,000 people have died since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011, first as a protest movement and then an armed rebellion after the regime cracked down on demonstrations.s

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Syrian rebels make new push into capital Damascus

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