Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of an "earthquake" if the West intervenes in his country, where some 3,000 people have died since antigovernment protests began in March.
Assad said in an interview
with Britain's "Sunday Telegraph" newspaper that Western powers risk causing an "earthquake" that would burn the Middle East if they intervened in Syria.
He said that Syria "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?"
Meanwhile, reports said that 20 Syrian soldiers were killed and 53 wounded in clashes with presumed army deserters.
A statement from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes occurred in the Baba Amro district of Homs.
The group also said that in the area of Homs, at least 12 civilians had died from fire by snipers and machine guns, while an undetermined number of others were killed in their homes by security forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said the bus was transporting security agents between the villages of Al-Habit and Kafrnabuda in Idlib province, close to the Turkish border, when it was ambushed "by armed men, probably deserters."
In the "Sunday Telegraph" interview, Assad warned against comparing his country's leadership with Western government: "Both computers do the same job, but they don’t understand each other. You need to translate. If you want to analyze me as the East, you cannot analyze me through the Western operating system, or culture. You have to translate according to my operating system, or culture."
compiled from agency reports