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Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has denied ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters, claiming he is not in charge of the troops behind the assault.

“We don’t kill our people. No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Al Assad told ABC’s Barbara Walters in an interview released yesterday.

“There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials.There was no command to kill or be brutal,” he said.

In a telephone interview from Geneva, Haitham Al Maleh, head of the National Salvation Conference told Gulf News that Al Assad’s remarks are a sign of weakness and an indication that the regime is close to collapse.

“It reminds me of Saddam Hussain’s interview with Dan Rather of the US channel CBS News on February 21, 2003, less than a month before the war was launched to topple him and end his regime,” he said.

Al Maleh added that dictators act very much the same when their people revolt against them. They kill protesters to intimidate the rest of the nation and speak shamelessly to international media to promote the image of their regimes. “Saddam did it once and Bashar is doing it now. This is, hopefully, the sign of the end,” he said.

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab British Understanding, said: “If Al Assad doesn’t control the Syrian Army, who does?

He added: “Syrians must be very confused. On the one hand he is the icon of the regime, the man in charge, with huge portraits of him being shown everywhere, but then he is telling American viewers that he is not responsible for anything.

“If he doesn’t run the security services and the armed forces, who does?

By Duraid Al Baik

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