Assad calls war conspiracy, boasts foes can’t oust him

DAMASCUS — President Bashar Assad of Syria said in an interview published Thursday that his government had fended off everything his enemies had thrown at him and that the only remaining threat to his rule was a far-off — and improbable — foreign intervention.

In comments to the state-run Al-Thawra newspaper, Assad rejected the idea that what has transpired in Syria for more than two years is a revolution. Instead, he reiterated his past claims that it is a conspiracy by Western and some Arab states to destabilize his country.

He also praised this week’s massive protests by Egyptians against their Islamist leader and said the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi meant the end of ‘‘political Islam.’’


In Syria, more than 93,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in March 2011. The crisis began with peaceful protests against Assad’s rule, then morphed into civil war after some opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown on dissent. Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee their homes.

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Throughout the crisis, Assad has insisted that his government is not facing a popular rebellion, but rather a Western-backed conspiracy against Syria, accusing the rebels fighting to topple his regime of being terrorists, Islamic extremists, and mercenaries of the oil-rich Arab Gulf states that are allies of the United States.

‘‘The countries that conspire against Syria have used up all their tools — moral, material and psychological — and they have nothing left except direct [military] intervention and this is too big for them to attain,’’ Assad said in the interview.

He did not elaborate, but the Obama administration is reluctant to mire the US military in another unpredictable conflict and its allies are unwilling to engage military in Syria alone.

The Assad regime says Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey, in addition to the United States and its European allies, are on the list of countries conspiring against Syria. These states have been chief supporters of the opposition fighting to overthrow Assad.


The Syrian president’s comments coincided with a crushing military offensive on the central city of Homs and a meeting of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul. It was the second attempt in as many months by Assad’s opponents to unify their ranks.

The Western-backed opposition bloc is primarily composed of exiled politicians with little support from Syrians trying to survive the third summer of conflict in a country that has been devastated by the fighting.

Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, has been hard hit by fighting over the past two years. The government controls much of the city, while several neighborhoods in the center of city remain opposition strongholds. A military offensive in the area that is part of the country’s heartland is now in its fifth day.

Khaled Saleh, a SNC spokesman, said the situation in Homs has ‘‘deteriorated tremendously’’ and warned that the fall of the city will jeopardize any political solution for the country.