The United States says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be either "disconnected" from reality or "crazy," after Assad claimed that he was not responsible for the killing of thousands of anti-regime protesters by Syrian security forces.
In an interview with U.S. ABC News television, Assad said that no government in the world would kill its people "unless it's led by a crazy person."
The Syrian leader added that he did not "own" the security forces that have been carrying out the violence, and said most of the people who have been killed in the Syrian conflict have been supporters of the government, not opponents.
Reacting to the comments, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Assad's remarks suggest that the leader has either lost power within Syria, is "disconnected" from reality, or is, as Assad said in the interview, "crazy."
"Just from what happened or what took place in the interview, he appeared utterly disconnected with the reality that's going on in his country and the brutal repression that's being carried out against the Syrian people,” Toner told reporters. “It's either disconnection, disregard, or, as he said, 'crazy.' I don't know."
The U.S. spokesman reiterated that Washington believes Assad has lost legitimacy and should step down. He also called on regime authorities to allow international observers and foreign media to enter Syria to monitor the situation.
The United Nations estimates that more than 4,000 people have been killed since protests against Assad's regime began last March.
compiled from agency reports