Syrian President Bashar Assad says that Western governments have more confidence in terrorists fighting in the Arab country than in him as the president.
“Western officials, who say there is little doubt government’s troops are to blame (for Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus), trust al-Qaeda more than me," Assad said in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel.
"The picture you're painting of me as someone who kills his own people is (false)," the magazine quoted him as saying on Sunday.
In the interview, Assad denied that his army had used chemical weapons, declaring that U.S. President Obama “had not even a whisper of proof.” “He has nothing to offer but lies,” he said.
The interview comes as UN-backed experts begin assessing Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in order to destroy them.
The Hamburg-based weekly reported that Assad acknowledged "personal mistakes by individuals."
"We all make mistakes. Even a president makes mistakes," Der Spiegel quoted him as saying. Assad reportedly added that there were "gray tones" as far as the question of blame was concerned.
"According to my definition a political opposition isn't armed," he was quoted as saying.
In its announcement about the interview, Der Spiegel did not say when it took place or whether it was face to face.
The magazine reported that Assad had declared a willingness to call elections before his term ends in August, and that he hadn't yet decided whether to run for the presidency again.
"If I don't have the will of the people behind me then I won't run again," it quoted him as saying.
He also said that he wants German envoys to go to Syria and has hinted that they could play a role in negotiating a settlement, although he also said that he doesn’t believe a deal with the rebels is possible, describing them as terrorists.
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