Assad rejects exile, says will 'live and die in Syria
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A handout photo made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian President Bashar Assad (C) visiting the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Damascus, Syria, 06 October 2012. EPA/SANA HANDOUTSyrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday rejected calls that he seek a safe exit, vowing he would "live in Syria and die in Syria" in an interview with Russian-backed international channel RT.
"I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country," Assad, who is facing a nearly 20-month revolt against his rule, told the channel in English, according to transcripts posted on the state-backed Russian news channel's website.
"I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria," he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday floated the idea of granting Assad safe passage from the country, saying it "could be arranged" though he wanted the Syrian leader to face international justice.
Assad also warned against a foreign intervention to deal with 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," he said.
"I do not think the West is going (to intervene), but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next," Assad said.
In a separate video extract of the interview, Assad also said: "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 armed rebels waging fierce battles with pro-regime forces, have urged the international community to intervene to stop escalating bloodshed in the country that rights groups say has left more than 37,000 people dead.