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Assad says Western action against Syria 'could burn the whole region'

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Western intervention against Syria, which has been rocked with protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, could cause 'an earthquake' that would 'burn the whole region,' Assad said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Western intervention against Syria, which has been rocked with protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, could cause 'an earthquake' that would 'burn the whole region,' Assad said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Anti-government protests began in Syria seven months ago. The authorities have used force to quash the riots and the UN says 3,000 people have died. The government says the death toll is half that.

Western countries "are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely. But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different," Assad told the paper.

"Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake ... Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?" he asked.

Assad said the West was nurturing plans to divide Syria.

"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region," he told the paper.

Assad admitted that "many mistakes" had been made by his forces at the early stage of the uprising, but added that only "terrorists" were now being targeted.

On Friday, however, thousands of anti-government demonstrators took to the streets in Syrian two major protest hubs - the northern city of Hama and the central city of Homs - calling for the imposition of a Libyan-style no-fly zone over the country to protect them.

Al-Jazeera reported on Saturday citing human rights groups that at least 44 people were killed in a crackdown on anti-government protest in Syria.

 

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