Syria's Assad says Western action would cause 'earthquake'
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that any Western action against his country would cause an "earthquake" that would inflame the region, in an interview published in a British newspaper.
The Sunday Telegraph said Assad warned of "another Afghanistan" if foreign forces intervened in Syria as they did with the Libyan uprising that led to the killing of Moamer Kadhafi.
"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?," the paper quoted Assad as telling one of its journalists in Damascus.
"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region."
His comments come after mass protests calling for the imposition of a Libya-style no-fly zone on Syria and renewed violence on Friday and Saturday in which dozens of security forces were reportedly killed.
Assad said "many mistakes" had been made by his forces in the early part of the uprising against his regime but insisted that his forces were now only targeting "terrorists".
"If you sent in your army to the streets, the same thing would happen. Now, we are only fighting terrorists. That's why the fighting is becoming much less," he told the Sunday Telegraph.
He also said that Syria had responded differently to Arab leaders in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya where regimes have been overthrown this year, insisting that he had begun reforms.
Activists said 20 Syrian soldiers were killed on Saturday and 53 wounded in clashes with presumed army deserters, while 10 security agents and a deserter were killed in a bus ambush and several civilians also died.
© 2011 AFP