Syrian president says he will not leave country

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BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed defiantly to “live and die” in Syria, saying in an interview broadcast today that he will never flee his country despite the bloody, 19-month-old uprising against him.

The broadcast comes two days after British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that Assad could be allowed safe passage out of the country if that would guarantee an end to the civil war, which activists estimate has killed more than 36,000 people.

“I am not a puppet, I was not made by the West for me to go to the West or any other country,” Assad, 47, said in the interview with the English-language Russia Today TV. He spoke in English and excerpts of the interview were posted on the station’s website today with an Arabic voiceover. “I am Syrian, I am made in Syria, and I will live and die in Syria,” he said.

Assad also warned against foreign military intervention at a time when the West is taking steps to boost the opposition.

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