Bashar al-Assad defiant that nothing will oust him from power in Syria


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The Independent Online

The Syrian President said in remarks published yesterday that he is adamant his regime will not fall, and he lashed out at Gulf countries he accused of using their oil wealth to try to drive him from power.

In an interview with the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, President Bashar al-Assad said the rebels "will not succeed" and that foreign military intervention such as helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in Libya will "not be repeated" in Syria. Mr Assad also hit out at Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of his strongest critics and backers of the opposition, saying they are trying to influence the region with their money.

His comments came as an opposition group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, blamed the regime for the disappearance of two of its leaders. Abdul-Aziz al-Kheir and Ayas Ayyash were due to take part in a conference tomorrow in Damascus with about 20 Syrian groups that are urging Mr Assad to quit. They disappeared on Thursday, with a friend who had picked them up at Damascus International Airport, the body said.

Its head, Hassan Abdul-Azim, told Associated Press by telephone that the regime was believed to be behind the disappearances.