Syria Warns of ‘Earthquake’ if West Intervenes

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 10:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of an “earthquake” across the Middle East if Western powers intervene in his country.

In an interview with British Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr. Assad said Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen. He warned of “another Afghanistan” if foreign troops intervene, saying his country is the hub in the Middle East, and “any problem in Syria will burn the whole region.”

His comments came hours after Syria activists said at least 47 soldiers and civilians were killed in violence across the country Saturday. Talks are scheduled Sunday in Doha between the Syrian government and the Arab League to try and start a dialogue with the opposition. Several opposition leaders have already called the meeting “a waste of time.”

According to the activists, at least 10 people died in the restive northern city of Homs, while seven others were killed elsewhere. Arab TV channels broadcast videos showing troops loyal to President Assad bombing the Bab Amr district of Homs.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 government soldiers were killed in clashes with suspected army defectors in Homs, while 10 security forces were ambushed by deserters in the northern province of Idlib. Al Arabiya TV reported that 90 soldiers defected from the Syrian army in the Bab Amr district Thursday, causing pro-Assad troops to attack.

The United Nations and Arab League condemned the violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria to “immediately halt military operations and said the calls of the Syrian people for change must be answered with serious reforms, not repression and violence.”

The Arab League committee on Syria has sent an urgent message to Damascus, demanding that it “stop killing Syrian civilians.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been facing growing international condemnation for his crackdown on opposition protesters. The United Nations says the death toll from seven months of anti-government protests has topped 3,000.