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Syrian President Assad Says He Won't Leave Country

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he has no intention of stepping down from power and leaving the country.

"I'm not a puppet. I wasn't made by the West to go to the West, or to any other country," he said in an interview with the Russia Today TV channel on November 8. "I'm Syrian. I'm made in Syria, and I have to live in Syria and die in Syria."

Assad also indicated that he did not believe the West would intervene militarily in Syria.  

"I think the price of this invasion, if it happens, is going to be more than the whole world can afford," he said. "Because if you have a problem in Syria -- and we are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region and coexistence -- it will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific."

Assad's remarks come at a time when Syria seems hopelessly mired in civil war.

According to the Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights some 37,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in fighting since violent unrest erupted in since March 2011.

Diplomats and observers agree the situation is growing worse.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) echoed this sentiment on November 8, saying it could no longer provide aid needed by civilians trapped by the continuing conflict.

Aid 'Blank Spots'

At a news conference in Geneva on November 8, ICRC chief Peter Maurer claimed the crisis has been deepening every day since the summer.

"We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse," he said. "And despite the fact that the scope of operation is increasing, we can't cope with the worsening of the situation."

Maurer said there were "blank spots" where the ICRC had been unable to deliver aid because of fighting. He said the agency did not know what the situation was in those areas.

Elsewhere, in the Qatari capital Doha, various Syrian opposition groups have discussed plans to create a 50-member leadership body that would coordinate with rebel fighters and be ready to negotiate a political transition out of the conflict with the country's government.

The current main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), largely composed of exiles and influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, has been criticized as ineffective.

The United States has said it hopes to see a more unified opposition, which includes representatives of rebels and activists who have been fighting inside Syria against the Assad regime. 

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa

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