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6 Apr, 2013 15:16

Assad: ‘I have neither left Syria nor died’

Assad: ‘I have neither left Syria nor died’

Syria’s president has disavowed all rumors of being in hiding somewhere in Iran or aboard a Russian battleship. In an interview to Turkish TV, Bashar Assad accused the Turkish government of being “knee-deep in Syrian blood.”

“I am in Syria living in the same place I always did. I am not hiding in a bunker. Everything said about my death or disappearance is rumors launched by enemies to shutter the morale of the Syrian people,” Assad stated in an interview to Turkey’s Ulusal Kanal TV channel published Friday.

 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) greeting journalists with the Turkish television Ulusal and Aydinlik newspaper in Damascus on April 2, 2013. (AFP Photo / Presidency Media Office)

"The Arab League lacks legitimacy itself," Assad pointed out. “This organization represents Arab states, not the Arab people. When we were working in this organization we saw it ourselves. The League can neither endow anybody with statutory powers nor strip anybody of them. The role of the organization is symbolic,” Assad revealed.

“Legitimacy is given or taken by the people only… If Syrian people endowed you with legitimacy, then you’re the legitimate president,” Assad shared.

'Chaos to engulf region if Syria falls’

An imposed change of power in Syria would have negative and dangerous consequences for the whole Middle East region, warned Assad.

“It is a well-known fact that Syria is divided. If terrorists take the country under control, that would immediately have an impact on the neighboring countries,” he said.

“In that case a ‘domino effect’ would influence countries situated far from the Middle East, to the west, east, north and south. An instability created would last for many years and even decades,” Assad predicted.

The Syrian crisis is not a local issue, he insists. Syria has become a battlefield for international heavyweights which are redrawing the map of the region.

Wounded people being treated in the emergency room of a hospital following an alleged mortar attack that hit the Baramkeh district of Damascus on March 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / SANA)

Assad believes the creation of BRICS economic alliance became a game-changer, stripping the US of the status of the only pole of power.

“Other countries now have to take into consideration the opinion of BRICS members states,” he claimed.

Assad assured that Syria is not getting direct support from BRICS countries, but the organization vows for stability in the region: “That is why BRICS opposes the West in Syria and calls for political settlement of the crisis in the country.”

‘Our neighbors back terrorists’

Assad condemned neighboring countries which assist terrorists to get into Syria.

"We are surrounded by countries enabling terrorists to infiltrate Syria. Certainly, not all of them are doing it intentionally. For example Iraq is against the infiltration of terrorists into Syria, but it is in special circumstances, being unable to control its borders. On the other hand, various factions in Lebanon help militants to infiltrate Syria,” Assad said, adding that militants are also crossing the Syrian border from Jordan, whereas Turkey's government is “officially harboring terrorists and is sending them into Syria.”

Ankara has been using Qatari money to arm and pay Islamist radicals to wage war in Syria, Assad acknowledged.

He lashed out at Turkey's prime minister, saying his former friend Tayyip Erdogan "has not uttered a single truthful word since Syria plunged into the crisis."

“The Turkish government is knee-deep in Syrian blood, “ Assad said adding that "the fire in Syria will eventually burn Turkey. Unfortunately, [Erdogan] does not see this reality".

Heavily damaged buildings in Zamalka, a suburb of Damascus, on March 31, 2013. (AFP Photo / Shaam News Network)

The fighting in Syria continues to escalate as the Syrian government’s troops battle opposition forces in the districts neighboring the capital, Damascus, according to the latest reports by local media.

Repeated suicide and car bombings hitting the city are now increasingly targeting Damascus's residential quarters and educational facilities, regularly killing civilians.

The civil conflict that has lasted for over two years now has claimed more than 70,000 lives and has displaced almost 4 million people, according to the UN.