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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Assad Vows to Remain in Syria

November 08, 2012

by VOA News

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he will not leave his country, and warned against foreign military intervention in Syria.

In an interview with Russia Today television, Assad said intervention would have a "domino effect" with implications for the rest of the world.

He also said he is "not a puppet" and would live and die in Syria.

Russia Today posted the excerpts from an interview with Assad on its website Thursday. It did not say when the conversation took place, but that it would broadcast the full interview on Friday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested earlier this week that Assad could be allowed safe passage out of Syria if that would guarantee an end to the country's civil war.

Syrian opposition members are holding talks Thursday in Qatar on a plan to create a broader, more unified council of rebels and political figures pushing to oust Assad.

The proposed group would later choose a temporary government for Syria and coordinate with the revolt's military wing. The plan would give about a third of the seats to members of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile.

Ahead of the Thursday meeting, the SNC elected its own 40-person leadership body, but officials said more members would likely be added because no women were selected.

The United States has said it expects an organized Syrian opposition to include the SNC, but also other groups. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the SNC can no longer be considered the visible leader of the opposition.

Meanwhile, Turkish media say Turkey has ordered an Armenian plane bound for Syria to land in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum for a cargo inspection.

It was the second time Turkey has stopped an Armenian aircraft flying over its airspace, as it tries to prevent military equipment from being flown into neighboring Syria. The plane was reported to be carrying humanitarian aid.

Turkey said Wednesday it would ask NATO to station "Patriot" air-defense missiles along its border with Syria to guard against any violence spilling onto its territory.

The Syrian conflict, which began as a protest movement against the rule of President Assad, is entering its 20th month. An estimated 36,000 people have died as the government crackdown against protesters developed into full-blown civil war.

The head of the International Red Cross, Peter Maurer, said Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Syria is getting worse, and that the aid group cannot cope with the growing needs of civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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