9 Nov 2012

Assad warns against invasion to topple him

10:47 am on 9 November 2012

Syria's ruler Bashar al-Assad has rejected any suggestion he might flee the country and has warned that any Western military intervention to topple him would have catastrophic consequences.

The Syrian leader, battling a 19-month old uprising against his rule, told Russian television he would not go to the West or any other country. "I am Syrian; I was made in Syria. I have to live in Syria and die in Syria," he told Russia Today.

Mr Assad's comments appear to scotch an idea by British Prime Minister David Cameron this week that a safe exit and foreign exile could be one way to end the civil war, Reuters reports.

The United States and its allies want the Syrian leader out, but have held back from arming his opponents or enforcing a no-fly zone, let alone invading. Russia has stood by Mr Assad.

The president said he doubted the West would risk the global cost of intervening in Syria, whose conflict has already added to instability in the Middle East and killed some 38,000 people.

"I think that the price of this invasion, if it happened, is going to be bigger than the whole world can afford ... It will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific," the 47-year-old president said.

"I do not think the West is going in this direction, but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next."