Assad vows to 'live and die' in his country

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The Independent Online

President Bashar al-Assad yesterday vowed to "live and die" in Syria, saying in an interview that he will never flee his country despite the bloody, 19-month-old uprising against him.

The broadcast comes two days after David Cameron suggested that Mr Assad could be allowed safe passage out of the country if that would guarantee an end to the civil war, which activists estimate has killed more than 36,000 people.

"I am not a puppet, I was not made by the West for me to go to the West or any other country," Mr Assad, 47, said in the interview with the English-language Russia Today TV. "I am Syrian, I am made in Syria, and I will live and die in Syria."

Mr Assad also warned against foreign military intervention at a time when the West is taking steps to support the opposition.

"I don't think the West is headed in this direction. But if it does, nobody can predict the consequences," he said.

The uprising against Mr Assad's regime began as mostly peaceful protests in March last year but quickly morphed into a civil war.