Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Qaddafi have fallen, but Syrian President Bashar Assad not only holds onto power but also warns he has “surprises” in store if foreign forces intervene. He did not offer detail, but Assad is suspected of stockpiling chemical weapons.
"Any action against Syria will have greater consequences, greater than they can tolerate,” said Assad in an interview.
He explained, "First, because of Syria's geopolitical location and second [because of] Syrian capabilities. They know part of it but they do not know the other parts and they will not be able to afford the results.”
“They” may refer to NATO, which took the unprecedented step of providing support for Libyan rebels by attacking Qaddafi’s army to protect civilians from mass slaughter. Western nations have not suggested sending military forces into Syria, but the United States and the European Union both have stepped up their criticism of Assad to the point of explicitly saying he should resign.
His regime was busy cleaning up the streets this week, erasing bloodstains and sweeping away shattered glass, all in preparation for a visiting humanitarian team. Assad repeatedly has said that the source of the bloodshed during the Arab Spring uprising was not his forces but rather “armed terrorist groups.”
As Assad spoke on state television, the carnage continued. His troops stormed the northern town of Kafar Takhareem Sunday morning and arrested nearly 200 people, according to opposition leaders. Al Jazeera quoted oppostion spokesmen as saying that people “were publicly beaten and then blindfolded and tightly stuffed into cars and driven to the security branches.”
More than 60 people were killed in the province of Homs since Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.