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Published: Monday, 8/22/2011

Syria warns against intervention

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIRUT -- Syria's president said Sunday he was "not worried" about security in his country and warned against any foreign military intervention in a speech designed to portray confidence as the regime comes under international condemnation for its crackdown on dissent.

The remarks by Bashar Assad, who spoke during an interview with state-run television, came just days after the United States and its European allies called for him to step down, and hours after a diplomat said Mr. Assad's regime was "scrubbing blood off the streets" ahead of a U.N. visit.

Mr. Assad promised imminent reforms -- including parliamentary elections by February -- but insisted the unrest was being driven by a foreign conspiracy, not true reform seekers.

The opposition rejected Mr. Assad's remarks, saying they have lost confidence in his promises of reform while his forces open fire on peaceful protesters.

Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the government's crackdown on protests. The regime has unleashed tanks, snipers, and other gunmen in an attempt to stamp out the uprising.

Mr. Assad warned against Libya-style military intervention, saying, "Any military action against Syria will bring repercussions that [the West] cannot tolerate."

Activists said security forces on Saturday shot two people dead in Rastan, near the provincial capital of Homs. One of those killed was Mahmoud Ayoub, a prominent activist who organized protests.

Syria granted a U.N. team permission to assess humanitarian needs, but activists and a Western diplomat accused the regime of trying to scrub away signs of the crackdown.



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