BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad said he does not see the West embarking on a military intervention in Syria and warned that the cost of such action would be unbearable, Russia Today reported on Thursday, citing an interview with him.

"I think that the cost of a foreign invasion of Syria - if it happens - would be bigger than the entire world can bear ... This will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific," he said.

"I do not believe the West is heading in this direction, but if they do, nobody can tell what will happen afterwards," he said. The remarks were published in Arabic on Russia Today's web site. Russia Today said the full interview would be broadcast on Friday. It was not clear when Assad gave the interview.

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Assad, who is battling to put down a 19-month old uprising against his rule, also said he would "live and die in Syria", in what appeared to be a rejection of the idea that a safe exit and foreign exile could be one way to end the civil war.

"I am not a puppet and the West did not manufacture me in order that I leave to the West or any other country. I am Syrian, I am Syrian-made, and I must live and die in Syria," he said.

Russia Today's web site showed footage of him speaking in the interview and walking down the stairs outside a white villa.

Syrian rebels hit Assad's forces in central Damascus

Syrian rebels attacked army roadblocks in Midan district in the heart of Damascus on Thursday to relieve pressure on outlying rebel strongholds being pounded by air strikes and artillery, opposition activists said.

Assad's forces responded by bombarding the densely populated commercial and residential district, situated just outside the Old City walls, killing a woman pedestrian and a worker in a car wash, they said.

State television said "terrorists" had fired a mortar into the district, killing a woman and wounding three people.

It was the first serious clash in Midan since Assad's forces overran the area in July, in an armored offensive that dislodged rebels from footholds in central Damascus.

An opposition activist in the capital, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, said rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles at roadblocks and other army and security positions surrounding the district.

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