November 8, 2012
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he will not leave his country and warned against foreign military intervention in Syria. Meanwhile, Syrian rebel fighters are reportedly intensifying attacks, claiming to have captured another border post with Turkey in the Kurdish northeast of the country.
President Assad told Russia Today TV that he has no intention of leaving Syria, despite recent comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron that a deal could be arranged for him to go into exile.
“I’m not a puppet, I was not made by the West to go to the West or any other country. I’m Syrian, I’m made in Syria and I have to live in Syria and die in Syria,” he said.
Assad also said that his country is the “last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region,” and that he did not expect any Western intervention in his country, because it would have a “domino effect” across the world.
Inside Syria, bombing missions have reportedly intensified. Amateur video showed Syrian government warplanes flying over parts of the capital, Damascus Thursday. Witnesses said schools were closed for the second straight day as the situation remains tense.
Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said the rebels are reported to have made major gains on the ground in and around the capital.
“There are indicators that the Syrian army is not doing much fighting,” said Khashan. “The front in Damascus has been reactivated and the Free Syrian Army is making gains around Damascus.”
Rebels from the southern city of Daraa claimed to have fired mortar rounds at the presidential palace in Damascus’ Mazzeh district Wednesday.
Syrian TV reported that the shells missed the palace, but hit a nearby residential neighborhood. And, a mortar bomb fired from Syria reportedly hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Thursday, according to the Israeli military.
Analyst Khashan said some members of President Assad’s Alawite sect have been trying to find a compromise with the rebels. He said the rebels and Alawites in a town near the Lebanese border have been negotiating to try to resolve their conflict.
Meanwhile, humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate for tens of thousands of Syrians, as winter approaches and more and more people are left homeless.
Peter Maurer, who heads the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the organization is unable to cope with the growing humanitarian crisis.
“We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse,” said Maurer. “And despite the fact that the scope of the operation is increasing, we can’t cope with the worsening of the situation.”
Another aid agency, the Union of Syrian Relief Organizations, said pro-government forces have hijacked foreign aid shipments, redirecting them to regime supporters.
Clashes were reported in the northeastern Syrian border town of Ras al Ain Thursday, after rebels claimed to have captured it from government forces a day earlier.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition members are holding talks Thursday in Qatar on a plan to create a broader, more unified council of rebels and political figures pushing to oust Assad.
The proposed group would later choose a temporary government for Syria and coordinate with the revolt’s military wing. The plan would give about a third of the seats to members of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile.