In rare interview, Bashar al-Assad says he will not step down
The Syrian ruler said in an interview Saturday from his palace in Damascus with the Argentine newspaper Clarin, that he welcomed dialogue. But the continuing lack of unity among the myriad rebel groups meant that the opposition would be unable to implement any ceasefire accords reached at an international conference, such as surrendering arms.
He denied his army had used chemical weapons against the rebels and accused the West of telling lies. “Israel,” he alleged “is directly supporting the terrorist groups in two ways, firstly it gives them logistical support and it also tells them what sites to attack and how to attack them. For example, the rebels attacked a radar station that is part of our anti-aircraft defenses, which can detect any plane coming from overseas, especially from Israel."
Assad went on to remark that he wasn’t aware the Syrian people had granted Secretary of State Kerry a mandate to choose its ruler. He admitted the presence of “people from Hizballah and Iran” in the country, but claimed they had been “coming and going in Syria long before the crisis.”
The Syrian ruler fully expected foreign intervention, but thought it would be limited in nature.