The United Nations is not a credible institution and cannot attest to the true nature of events unfolding in Syria, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he had not seen concrete evidence that his regime was involved in a violent crackdown of pro-democracy protests.
Late last month, a UN commission of inquiry on Syria said that Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape and that Assad's government of bore responsibility.
Syria is "responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces as documented in the present report," the three-member panel said in a 39-page report to the UN Human Rights Council.
Later, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay reporters that the UN was placing the death toll in Syrian unrest "at 4,000, but really the reliable information coming to us is that it is much more than that."
However, in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters on Tuesday, Assad denied there was any evidence of wrongdoing on his part, saying: "I say send out the documents and the concrete evidence that you have and we will see if it's true or not."
Asked whether the UN sent the report, Assad said "Nothing at all. As long as you don't see the documents and the evidence we cannot say yes. That's normal…. Who said the United Nations is a credible institution?"
"You don't think the UN is a credible organization?" Walters asked, to which Assad said: "No." The Syrian president then said the only reason his country had an ambassador in the UN was because it was "a game we play, it doesn't mean we believe it."
Elsewhere in the interview, Assad claimed that any wrongdoings that may have occurred were not linked to him. When asked by Walters whether he thought his security forces cracked down too hard, the Syrian president said: "They are not my fault, they are military forces that belong to the government, I don’t own then, I'm [the] president, so they're not my fault."
"But you have to give the order," Walters asked, to which he said: "No, no, no, no one's command, no command to kill and to be brutal."
Assad referred to the many images emerging from Syria and depicting abuse and security forces' brutality, saying:"How did you verify those pictures. That's why you are talking about false allegations and distortions of reality. We don't kill our people, no government in the world kills its people. This is led by crazy persons."
"Every 'brute reaction' was by an individual, not by an institution, that's what you have to know," he said. "There is a difference between having a policy to crackdown and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference," said Assad.
When asked if he felt guilty over what was transpiring in his country, Assad said: "I do my best to protect my people, so I cannot feel guilty when you do your best. You feel sorry for the lives that had been lost, but you don't feel guilty when you don't kill people."
The Syrian president also claimed his people still supported him, saying "the only thing that you could be afraid of as president is to lose the support of your people…not to be in jail and things like this."
"If you don't have the support of your people you cannot be in this position…. It's a very hard country to govern if you don't have the support of the people," he added.
Read this article in Hebrew: אסד: "אני לא אחראי להרג. מי אמר שנהרגו 4,000 בני אדם? האו"ם לא אמין"
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now