Assad: Intervention in Syria will cause 'earthquake'

 

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The Independent Online

Syrian president Bashar Assad has warned Western intervention against his regime would cause an "earthquake" that would "burn the whole region".

President Assad told the Sunday Telegraph the action could lead to "another Afghanistan".

His comments came after hundreds of people marched to the Syrian embassy in London to show solidarity with those suffering from his crackdown in the Middle Eastern country.

At least three people were killed when a district in the city of Homs was shelled yesterday, a day after security forces reportedly killed about 40 people in a bid to suppress the uprising.

In his interview, President Assad conceded that western powers would "ratchet up the pressure" but said his country was different "in every respect" from Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, where other uprisings had taken place.

He said: "Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake...

"Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?"

"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region."

He said "many mistakes" had been made by his forces at the start of the uprising, but said only "terrorists" were being targeted now.

President Assad insisted his response to the Arab Spring was not one of "stubborn government", adding: "Six days after (the protests began) I commenced reform."

He insisted the pace of form was "not too slow", saying: "The vision needs to be mature."

The United Nations estimates the regime crackdown has killed 3,000 people in the country since March.

The recent violence sparked strong criticism from the Arab League, which issued a statement expressing "disgust" at Friday's killings.

An Arab League committee was due to a Syrian delegation in Qatar today to discuss ways to solve the crisis stemming from the seven-month uprising against President Assad's regime.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has also appealed for "military operations against civilians to stop at once".

Yesterday protesters chanted "Get Out Assad" and "Free Free Syria" during a two-hour rally outside the embassy in Belgrave Square. Campaigners put their numbers at nearly 1,000.

PA.

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