Assad 311 reuters.
(photo credit: reuters)
President Bashar Assad told ABC News in an interview aired Wednesday that he is not directly
responsible for acts of violence committed by his security forces since
an uprising against the Alawite president began in Syria in March of
this year, and denied reports of torture by the Syrian army.
Speaking with Barbara Walters, Assad
said that "There
is a difference between a deliberate policy of repression, and the
presence of some errors committed by some officials. There is a great
difference," Assad reportedly said, adding that acts of violence were
carried out by "individuals," and not ordered by the Syrian government.
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situation in Syria has
grown increasingly chaotic in the last few months as security forces
have been accused of firing live rounds on peaceful protests, Syrian
soldiers and intelligence officers have defected, some of whom have
helped form the the Free Syrian Army " to support the opposition.
The death toll in the embattled country has risen above 4,000 people according to the United Nations.
speaking during his first interview with an American news outlet,
dismissed that figure, questioning the UN's credibility.
claimed that most of those killed in street violence were government supporters and not vice
versa, as has been widely claimed by witnesses, human rights groups, and
Assad said that he has not ordered the killing of
civilians, saying "no government in the world kills its people, unless
it's led by a crazy person," according to ABC News.
Western leaders, Turkey and the Arab League have ordered that the Syrian
president stop a brutal crackdown on protesters that has caused
thousands of deaths, and usher in political reforms that he promised almost immediately after the uprising began. Jordan, Turkey, the EU and the US have called on Assad to step down.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Syria is now in a civil war, and there are fears
that sectarian differences among Syria's ethnically diverse population
could push the country into a conflict similar to that in neighboring
Syrian on Tuesday claimed it had stopped at least 35 "terrorists" from infiltrating the country from Turkey, which has been housing thousands of Syrian refugees and opponents of the Assad regime.
In addition to accusations by human rights groups of
torture, killings, and unwarranted arrests of activists and bloggers by
the Syrian armed forces, recent reports point to a new phenomenon of
unknown assailants and deaths on both the pro- and anti-Assad sides.
the past two days, more people were killed in mysterious circumstances
than by the state security forces firing in the streets, activists and
residents say. Yet very little is known for certain about who is behind
such killings, which appear to have targeted government supporters, as
well as opponents.
has said it may sign up to a peace plan by the 22-state Arab League
which calls for forces to be withdrawn to barracks and Arab observers
allowed into the country.
But it says, as a precondition, the Arab League would have to revoke
economic sanctions it imposed earlier this month and unblock Syria's
frozen membership of the League.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby suggested on Tuesday holding
an urgent meeting at ministerial level to evaluate Syria's position. No
date was proposed.