Tag Archives: assad

Gantz says Lebanon will pay if Hezbollah attacks

Gantz says Lebanon will pay if Hezbollah attacks

Israel will face elevated terror threat when rebels have ousted Syria’s Assad, says IDF Chief of Staff
By Elhanan Miller

Israel will respond to an attack from Hezbollah by striking Lebanese infrastructure, IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz said on Monday evening in a sharply worded warning to the Shiite group sitting on Israel’s northern border.

“We will know how to act with Hezbollah and with Lebanon, including its infrastructure,” Gantz told the audience of the Herzliya Conference, a local policy convention. “Lebanon cannot claim sovereignty but not bear responsibility. If a conflagration erupts, I would rather be an Israeli citizen than a Lebanese.”

Israel may even “find itself in a war tomorrow” Ganz warned, although it will not be the one to initiate it.

Gantz said that despite the semblance of security calm in Israel, “not a week goes by, not to say hardly a day, when I don’t have to deal with an issue that you didn’t even hear about, that could have resulted in a strategic threat.”

In the past, Gantz said, Israel used to be able to address threats emanating from Lebanon by exerting pressure on Syria. But that is no longer the case.

“Syria has become an exceptionally dangerous place,” he said. The likelihood of a Syrian conventional attack against Israel has dramatically decreased, but has been replaced by a terrorist threat along the Israeli-Syrian border.

“We will be next in line after Assad,” Gantz said, referring to the terror dangers to Israel the day after the expected ouster of the Syrian president.

To counter the new threats facing Israel, the IDF is now going on the offensive, Gantz said, ramping up the readiness of intelligence, land and air forces.

“We will need to operate at a much higher intensity,” he said, adding that Israel will need to strike a delicate balance between the moral imperative to preserve human life and the obligation to ensure the safety of its own citizens. A future war will require an Israeli military presence on the ground, mostly in urban areas, he added.

Gantz also spoke out against expected military budget cuts, noting that the military’s quality could suffer as a result.

“We must not become a hollow army,” Gantz said. “I prefer a smaller army of higher quality than a larger army which is rusty and hollow.” The reference to a smaller army came as potential coalition partners debated possible new legislation to require ultra-Orthodox young males to serve in the IDF.

Including the ultra-Orthodox needed to be a slow and gradual process, Gantz said, adding that the recruitment of the ultra-Orthodox had “been good” thus far, and that those recruited had contributed a great deal to the army. They “come in “ultra-Orthodox and leave ultra-Orthodox,” he said, addressing the notion that ultra-Orthodox troops might be subverted during the IDF experience and become less devout.

“We have to ensure that the right people are in the right places at the right times,” Gantz added.SOURCE

Only Putin can decide if – and when – Assad will step down

Only Putin can decide if – and when – Assad will step down

By Zvi Bar’el

Images of the bullet-ridden bodies of bound Syrian civilians, some all but naked, are flooding Arab television broadcasts. Syrian human rights activists say on live TV they can’t collect their dead in neighborhoods that are being attacked by Syrian army mortars. The dead are estimated at more than 300 since Friday.

The many hundreds of civilians wounded in that time don’t appear to have much of a chance to receive medical aid. It’s not only that the hospitals are filled – many of the wounded fear heading to a clinic because they could be killed by the Syrian army.
Medvedev and Assad in Syria

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus last year.
Photo by: AP

This has the been the demonstrators’ toughest day in Homs, Syria’s third largest city at more than 1.2 million people. Homs has become the symbol of Syria’s civil uprising. The destroyed homes in the Khaldiyeh quarter are evidence of the regime’s savage assault. Its new strategy to allow the army to attack and kill without distinguishing its target, as opposed to previous efforts to focus on the sources of the uprising, reflects the campaign’s current stage.

Syrian demonstrators who commemorated the massacre of tens of thousands of people at Hama on Hafez Assad’s orders 30 years ago can observe Bashar Assad’s decision to adopt his father’s methods. The younger Assad, who allowed opposition intellectuals to express their opinions during the early days of his rule and brought the Internet to his country, is proving to be a butcher keen to maintain his family’s power at any price.

Thousands have fled Syria and thousands more are on their way to the improvised refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. On their way they are chased by gunfire from the Syrian army and thugs in the regime’s security forces. They must pass through the mine fields laid on the border to prevent people from fleeing. Still, the demonstrations continue in Homs, Aleppo and, yesterday, on Baghdad Street in the capital Damascus.

Facing the Syrian army is the Free Syrian Army, which numbers around 30,000, including generals and several hundred junior officers. But this force only has light weapons and relies on Lebanese smugglers for its supplies. Every once in a while it takes control of a small town or suburb.

According to Syrian sources, the rebel army is supported financially by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but it can’t function as a regular army. It suffers from disunity; the ranks are loyal to various commanders. Meanwhile, another “army” has been set up by deserters in Homs, but it’s unclear how this force is coordinating with the Free Army. Al-Qaida might be able to penetrate this situation and spot an opportunity for a new battle led by extremist religious ideology, similar to what we’ve seen in Iraq.

The situation on the ground in Syria hasn’t been affected by the diplomatic maneuvering at the United Nations. Syrian television shows scenes from cities anyone would want to live in. Calm streets, only a few cars, and soft elevator music playing during the broadcast. Syrian television analysts say the dead – if they acknowledge any deaths – have been caused by opposition thugs on the orders of Arab countries at the behest of Western planners.

At the United Nations, Assad can still count on Russian support, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says his country will oppose any resolution that even hints at foreign intervention, blocks arms sales, imposes international sanctions or demands that Assad step down. Lavrov says Russia wants to see a Syrian solution, “not an American one.” If someone is to decide if and when Assad leaves, it will be Vladimir Putin, not Barack Obama.


No Fly Zone…..this never ends well

US & Arab States Set To Impose No Fly Zone Over Syria

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Reports out of Kuwait suggest that Arab states are set to impose a no fly zone over Syria with US logistical support, advancing the prospect of a military assault to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad under a “humanitarian” pretext.
Report: US & Arab States Set To Impose No Fly Zone Over Syria AIR F 16s Turkish Armed lg

“Senior European sources said that Arab jet fighters, and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistic support will implement a no fly zone in Syria’s skies, after the Arab League will issue a decision, under its Charter, calling for the protection of Syrian civilians,
” reports Albawaba, citing Kuwait’s al Rai daily.

YNet news, the website for Israel’s most widely read newspaper, also carried the report.

As part of a plan to cripple the country’s military forces within 24 hours, the “movement of Syrian military vehicles, including tanks, personnel carriers and artillery,” would all be banned under the terms of the no fly zone.

Syrian opposition forces have repeatedly called for a no fly zone to be enforced over the country, but last month NATO all but ruled out the prospect. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has also called on the Obama administration to impose a no fly zone without waiting for a green light from the United Nations.

“If indeed Europe and the Western world is dead set upon an aerial campaign above Syria, then all eyes turn to the East, and specifically Russia and China, which have made it very clear they will not tolerate any intervention. And naturally the biggest unknown of all is Iran, which has said than any invasion of Syria will be dealt with swiftly and severely,” reports Zero Hedge.

Hostilities have accelerated in recent days, with Russian warships entering Syrian territorial waters on Friday in an aggressive maneuver designed to discourage any NATO-led attack.
Without Russia’s help, Syria would be largely defenseless against a NATO attack. “I don’t see any purely military problems. Syria has no defence against Western systems … [But] it would be more risky than Libya. It would be a heavy military operation,” former French air force chief Jean Rannou commented.
While NATO powers have accused the Syrian regime of carrying out atrocities against its citizens, others have framed the bloodshed in the context of a civil war. As we saw with Libya, rebel fighters who were commandeering fighter jets and firing rocket-propelled grenades were still being described as “protesters” by the establishment media days before the no fly zone was imposed and the bombing campaign began.

As we saw prior to the attack on Libya, which was also framed as a “humanitarian intervention,” NATO powers are keen to demonize Assad’s government by characterizing attacks by his forces as atrocities while largely ignoring similar attacks by opposition forces, such as a raid on a Syrian air force intelligence complex earlier this month that killed or wounded 20 security police.SOURCE

NATO in final preparations for new war

NATO preps for new war
Syrian chief warns attack will set Middle East aflame

TEL AVIV – NATO troops are training in Turkey for a Turkish-led NATO invasion of Syria, a senior Syrian diplomatic official claimed to WND.

Separately, informed Middle East security officials said Russia has been inspecting Syrian forces and has been advising Syria about possible Syrian military responses should NATO attack the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The officials said Russia recently sold Syria a large quantity of Iskander ballistic missiles, and that, in light of the NATO threat, the Russian government renewed its pledge to sell Syria the advanced S-300 anti-missile system.

The Syrian diplomatic official, meanwhile, recognized his country receives general support from Russia, but told WND that Assad’s regime is concerned the European Union and U.S. may offer Russia an economic incentive to scale back Russian support for Syria.

The report comes as Assad reportedly warned yesterday he will set the Middle East on fire if NATO forces attack his country.

“If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv,” Assad reportedly said, according to Iran’s state-run Fars news agency.

Assad made the comments in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu, reported Fars.

Fars reported Davutoglu conveyed a warning from NATO and the U.S. that Syria could face an international military campaign if Assad does not halt his violent crackdown on an insurgency targeting the Syrian president’s regime.

Assad also reiterated that Damascus will call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch an intensive rocket and missile attack on Israel, reported Fars.

“All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. and European interests will be targeted simultaneously,”
Assad was quoted as saying.

While Assad’s remarks could not be immediately verified, Iran, which runs Fars, is a close partner to the Damascus government.

WND first reported in August that Assad is taking military measures to prepare for a possible U.S.-NATO campaign against his regime.

Informed Egyptian security officials told WND Assad instructed the Syrian military to be prepared for an air or ground campaign if the international community determines his pledges of reform are not enough.

Also in August, WND first reported Turkey secretly passed a message to Damascus that if it does not implement major democratic reforms, NATO may attack Assad’s regime, according to Egyptian security officials.

The Egyptian security officials said the message was coordinated with NATO members, specifically with the U.S. and European Union.

The Egyptian officials said Turkish leaders, speaking for NATO, told Assad that he has until March to implement democratization that would allow free elections as well as major constitutional reforms.

Last month, Obama officially asked Assad to step down to pave the way for a democratic system in Syria.

According to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, Assad asked his military to make specific preparations in the event of a U.S.-led NATO campaign similar to the military coalition now targeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

George Soros-funded doctrine with White House ties

The Libya bombings have been widely regarded as a test of a military doctrine called “Responsibility to Protect.”

In his address to the nation in April explaining the NATO campaign in Libya, Obama cited the doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”

The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various United Nations-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops who commit alleged “war crimes” overseas.

The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world’s leading champion of the military doctrine.

As WND reported, billionaire activist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Several of the doctrine’s main founders also sit on boards with Soros.

WND reported the committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Also, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy has a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect. The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “responsibility to protect” while defining its guidelines.

The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.

With Power’s center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

Power reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya.

Two of the global group’s advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”

As WND reported, Soros’ Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Also, Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.

Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

Annan once famously stated, “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are … instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa.”

Soros: Right to ‘penetrate nation-states’

Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article titled “The People’s Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.”

In the article Soros said, “True sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”

“If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified,” Soros wrote. “By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.

“In particular,” he continued, “the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.”

More George Soros ties

“Responsibility” founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chairmen with Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. Charitable Foundation, on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term “responsibility to protect.”

In his capacity as co-chairman, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to “sovereignty as responsibility.”

Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.

Thakur is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by Soros.

Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a “crisis management organization” for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.

WND previously reported how the group has been petitioning for the U.S. to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition in Egypt, where longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was recently toppled.

Aside from Evans and Soros, the group includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

WND also reported the crisis group has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.

Soros’ own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.

‘One World Order’

WND reported that doctrine founder Thakur recently advocated for a “global rebalancing” and “international redistribution” to create a “New World Order.

In a piece last March in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, “Toward a new world order,” Thakur wrote, “Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution.”

He was referring to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, “Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions.”

In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.

“The West’s bullying approach to developing nations won’t work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia,” he wrote.

“A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train,” he added.

Thakur continued: “Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behavior for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations.”

Thakur contended “the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of ‘superior’ Western power.”

Read more: NATO preps for new war SOURCE

Next Stop For NATO Regime Change: Syria

Next Stop For NATO Regime Change: Syria

Paul Joseph Watson

With western-backed Al-Qaeda rebels now firmly in control of Libya, NATO is set to move on to its next target for regime change – Syria – with Bashir Assad’s government becoming increasingly isolated as attack plans are finalized.

According to DebkaFile’s military and intelligence sources, several different blueprints for military intervention in Syria are now being considered by NATO powers and allied states in the region, including the use of Turkish and Saudi troops to overthrow Assad’s regime.

“Well-informed military sources warn that Assad will not be cowed by the international, military and economic noose tightening around his neck. He is far more likely to try and loosen it by lashing out against his enemies, starting with Israel. Iran will certainly be a willing supporter of such belligerence, starting a war which could spread like wildfire across the region,” states the report.

Earlier this month NATO powers, including US President Barack Obama, called on Assad to step down. The UN has already pulled all its non-essential staff out of the country.

Obama’s demand that Assad step aside is exactly what happened prior to the bombardment of Libya. On February 26, Obama called on Gaddafi to give up power. Three weeks later, US B-2 bombers were attacking Libyan airfields.

The establishment media is repeating precisely the same rhetoric we were bombarded with prior to the attack on Libya, where for weeks rebel troops who had seized control of fighter jets, tanks and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were described as “protesters” and “demonstrators”.

Given that the western press has proven adept at manufacturing lies to justify military interventions, whether the actions of Assad’s regime represent genuine atrocities or legitimate conduct in the midst of a civil war remains unclear. Some have claimed the abuses are being embellished, while both former CIA agent Robert Baer and ex-MI6 officer Alastair Crooke point out that the Syrian people definitely want change, but not in the form of a NATO “humanitarian” assault.

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“Syrians want change. But whether Westerners believe it or not, most people in Damascus, in Aleppo, the middle classes, the merchant classes and the [sectarian] minorities believe Assad is the only person who can bring in reforms,” he said. “They fear two things above all else – civil war and Western intervention … They would like to avoid the example of Libya because it would lead them into civil war,” said Crooke.

Whether or not Assad’s regime has committed atrocities, as Congressman Ron Paul points out today, both Assad and Gaddafi are no worse than some of the tyrants currently being propped up by western powers, such as the US and British-backed unelected monarchy in Bahrain which has terrorized and murdered its people for almost six months. Fellow western ally Saudi Arabia also sent troops into Bahrain, trained by the British Armed Forces, to crush the popular uprising, leaving behind a trail of human rights abuses.

There was no NATO “humanitarian” intervention when Bahraini troops acting on behalf of the dictatorship began indiscriminately firing tear gas into villages and homes, killing old women and children via asphyxiation, before detaining thousands of pro-democracy protesters and subjecting them to torture while killing scores of others.

Meanwhile, western ally Saudi Arabia is trying to pass a law that would designate any form of protest against the monarchy as a terrorist act. This follows widespread protests by pro-reform demonstrators earlier this year which were met with police brutality, murders and arrests without charge.

“Gaddafi may well have been a tyrant, but as such he was no worse than many others that we support and count as allies,” writes Ron Paul. “Disturbingly, we see a pattern of relatively secular leaders in the Arab world being targeted for regime change with the resulting power vacuum being filled by much more radical elements. Iraq, post-Saddam, is certainly far closer to Iran than before the US invasion. Will Libya be any different?”

Given that Libya has now been seized by Al-Qaeda terrorists who are already committing atrocities against the country’s black population, NATO’s “humanitarian” pretext for further interventions has been completely discredited, but don’t expect that to stand in the way of the opportunity to capture another “rogue state” and homogenize it into the global empire of the new world order.


Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.


Times They Are A Changing

Defiant Assad addresses Syria on TV as UN arrives in Damascus

Nour Ali and Martin Chulov
The Guardian

A defiant president Bashar al-Assad warned against outside interference in Syria and shrugged off international criticism in a live interview with state television on Sunday night.

His fourth address during a growing revolt against his rule was aimed as much at the international community who have sided decisively with protesters as it was at the nation.

In a comment that appeared designed to include Turkey, he warned “countries close and far away” against intervening.

“Any action against Syria will have huge consequences that they [foreign countries] can never tolerate,” he said.

Last week, the US led a choreographed call with the leaders of the EU, UK, France and Germany calling on Assad to step aside, amid an escalated military offensive since 31 July.

Assad dubbed the powers “colonial” and, addressing his domestic audience, repeated talk of reforms. He suggested a law on forming political parties would be issued next week and that elections for the largely rubber-stamp parliament would be held in February.

He made no mention of his position as president.

In a suggestion that the violence may continue, Assad said unrest had become more militant, but that he was confident the regime could deal with it.

Large-scale military assaults appear to have ceased, but gunfire and arrests by the security forces continue to be reported across the country.

Two people were shot dead when trying to flee from Latakia on Sunday, activists said, while a curfew was being enforced in towns across the southern plain on the border with Jordan.

Assad has reportedly told a UN delegation from the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs that arrived on Saturday that it can travel to any part of the country it wishes.

Before a planned visit to Latakia, a western diplomat said reports had been received of a large-scale clean-up of the al-Ramel Palestinian refugee camp in the city, which was heavily targeted in an assault from land and sea last week.

“Reports of a clean-up do square perfectly with the version of events which the regime is denying,” the diplomat said. “But the evidence in the form of personal testimonies of what happened in Latakia is overwhelming and undeniable. Assad can run but he can’t hide from the arm of international law.”

Residents of Hama and Homs reported similar clean-ups by government officials after rampages through both cities by security forces in recent months.

Before the broadcast ended, protests chanting against Assad broke out across the country in a sign that nothing the president says will quell dissent after months of bloodshed.

Some protesters did not watch the broadcast at all, while others treated it as a form of light entertainment. Tweeters using the hashtag “AssadLies” denounced the address. “This is of no importance, a joke,” one activist said, speaking during the broadcast which was preceded by a montage of images of Syria and Assad.

Despite international pressure, the violent crackdown has continued with more that 350 people said to have been killed this month – adding to a death toll of more than 2,000 civilians.

The country’s third city, Homs, was particularly targeted at the weekend, with tens of people killed and many more arrested by security forces, activists said.
Residents portrayed Homs as a city bracing itself for renewed destruction.
“There are snipers on all the buildings. The tanks aren’t in the centre, but around the edges. The situation is terrible,” the resident said.

International calls for Assad to leave have sharply intensified scrutiny of his regime and its sustained crackdown against demonstrators, which it continues to cast as a fight against terrorists.

The western stance is set to greatly increase the stakes for Assad, who now faces pariah status among leaders whose attention he had previously coveted.

It has also for the first time raised the possibility of a Libyan-style military intervention, something which had not previously been considered despite over five months of violence in which an estimated 2,500 people have died and which have all but shut down the Syrian economy.

A Guardian poll published at the weekend revealed that 80% of respondents supported some sort of military intervention in Syria. But there is no western appetite for military action in the densely populated country – and Syrians almost unanimously reject the idea.

There are fears that the western demands could embolden him, giving him little option but to fight as he struggles to retain control of the hardline police state his family has ruled as a personal fiefdom for more than four decades.

His traditional international support base remains resolute. Iranian support for the regime makes it a key factor in calculations and Russia has said it does not support calls for Assad to leave.

In the interview Assad said he was unclear what Turkey, a former close ally, is thinking. Ankara has stepped up its rhetoric against Assad and it has been rumoured that it may implement a buffer zone if more refugees flee across the border, but it has stopped short of calling for him to resign.

Istanbul was on Sunday hosting a meeting of Syrian opposition groups who are attempting to elect a national council.

The new body would aim to position itself as an alternative leadership, in the same way that the National Transitional Council did in the weeks after Colonel Gaddafi was ousted from eastern Libya. That body eventually won international recognition.

“The opposition is starting to realise that they cannot be all chiefs and that they have to live up to the expectations of the international community,
” veteran opposition figure Khaled Haj Saleh told Reuters.

However, some opposition activists rejected the move, saying those arranging the council has decided to without consulting certain groups.

The UN last week said it had identified 50 Syrian regime figures who may have committed crimes against humanity. In another sign of mounting international anger, the EU is considering placing a ban on Syrian oil exports, which account for 25% of the country’s economy. Assad said sanctions would not hurt but with industry at a standstill, no tourism, and cash reserves rapidly dwindling, such a move would likely prove difficult for the regime to withstand in the long run.

Nour Ali is a pseudonym for a journalist based in Damascus