"I am not a monster, the way my enemies try to portray me," Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad told a Jordanian delegation that met him recently, according to London-based Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi. "All those who talk about me and Syria forget that I am human, made of flesh and blood, and I have feelings. They forget that I am a doctor and I am pained by scenes of blood and death."
The meeting between Assad and 18 Jordanian activists reportedly lasted for two hours.
Assad told the activists that he adamantly refuses to resign from the presidency. He insisted that he will run for president again when his present term expires in 2014.
"They say that I should leave, or announce that I will not run in the next elections. I will not do this," he vowed. "I will keep my right to contend, and even if I do not, I will stay in Damascus and I will not leave it. I have friends, family and a homeland, and I will continue to serve my homeland in any situation."
Assad, an ophthalmologist by profession, said that he could also practice medicine instead of being president.
He told his guests that "the true campaign" is not against Salafists or Islamists but against the Zionists and the United States. He spoke of a conspiracy to redraw the Middle Eastern map in a way that serves "the colonial powers."