For 19 months the civil war in Syria has raged on, leaving in its trail at least 35,000 dead and countless others displaced and ravaged by war. Yet in an interview, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made it clear that he would not go quietly and warned that any foreign attempt at military intervention would be dangerously costly to the West.
"I think that the cost of a foreign invasion of Syria -- if it happens -- would be bigger than the entire world can bear... This will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific," he told Russia Today, which published excerpts from the interview on its news site Thursday, with the full interview to be broadcast Friday.
"I do not believe the West is heading in this direction, but if they do, nobody can tell what will happen afterwards," he said.
In a possible rejection of British Prime Minister David Cameron's recent statement that a "safe exit" can be arranged for Assad if it will guarantee an end to the civil war, Assad said he prefers to "live and die in Syria." It is unclear, however, when the interview was given.
"I am not a puppet and the West did not manufacture me in order that I leave to the West or any other country. I am Syrian, I am Syrian-made, and I must live and die in Syria," he said.
The worsening civil war has spilled over in the past few months to Turkey and Lebanon and in the past week the fighting made it's way to Israel. Stray bullets from Syrian fighting hit IDF vehicles in the Golan Heights and caused at least one brush fire in the northern Israeli region. And as recently as Thursday morning, three Syrian mortar shells were fired into Israel, with one of them hitting a neighborhood in the town of Alonei Habashan, which is several kilometers from the border.