Assad blames Turkey for violence
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the Turkish government today for violence in a 17-month-old uprising in the country, in which thousands have died.
"Turkey bears direct responsibility for the blood being shed in Syria," Dr Assad told the local television channel Addounia.
He also said his government had been aware some officials were trying to defect and allowed them to leave unhindered.
"Sometimes we had information (on defections) and we would discuss it. Some would suggest we stop them. But we said no, stopping them isn't the right thing to do, letting them leave is the right thing to do ... let's facilitate their exit," he said.
Dr Assad, who is struggling to put down a 17-month-old revolt, said such officials should be allowed to leave because it was "cleaning" the state of unpatriotic officials.
Meanwhile, Basma Kodmani, a prominent figure in the Syrian National Council (SNC) who resigned yesterday, said the umbrella opposition group had become too focused on personal agendas and needed to be replaced by a new political authority.
Speaking to Reuters today, Ms Kodmani said the SNC was not doing enough to back the increasingly militarized revolt.
"While the political role of the SNC is important, the credibility and legitimacy of a coalition of an opposition is related to its effectiveness," she said.
"My sense was that the SNC was not up to facing the increasing challenges on the ground and was not up to the performance I would have liked it to be," she said in a telephone interview from Paris.
Ms Kodmani, one of the few women in the SNC, headed up the group's foreign affairs bureau.
Dr Assad said talk of a Western-imposed buffer zone on Syrian territory was unrealistic and that the situation in his country was "better", but more time was needed to win the conflict against rebels trying to overthrow him.
The president, responding to rumours concerning his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus, said he was speaking from the presidential palace in the capital.
"I believe that talk about a buffer zone is not practical, even for those countries which are playing a hostile role (against Syria)," Dr Assad said.
Turkey has floated the idea of a "safe zone" to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting has intensified in the 17-month-old uprising against Dr Assad.
French president Francois Hollande said on Monday his country supported the Turkish proposal.
Turkey once cultivated good relations with Dr Assad but turned against him over his violent response to the uprising. Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan has become one of Dr Assad's harshest critics and has raised the possibility of military intervention in Syria if Kurdish rebels became a threat there.