Assad: Western-imposed buffer zone in Syria 'unrealistic'
Syrian rebels release video purporting to show missiles, chemical masks seized from government; Turkey wants UN to house refugees inside Syria; Iran plans to propose NAM troika committee for settling Syrian crisis.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Tuesday that talk of a Western-imposed buffer zone on Syrian territory was unrealistic and that the situation in his country, where rebels have been fighting to overthrow him, was "better."
Assad was speaking in a rare interview with Syrian Addounia television, excerpts of which were broadcast by the station on Wednesday. The president, responding to rumors of his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus, said he was speaking from the presidential palace in the capital.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday Turkey had discussed with the United Nations the possibility of housing Syrian refugees inside Syria and that Ankara expected the world body to take concrete steps toward this.
"We expect the United Nations to engage on the topic of protecting refugees inside Syria and if possible sheltering them in camps there," Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara.
Turkey has floated the idea of a "safe zone" to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting intensifies in a 17-month-old uprising against Assad.
Up to 5,000 refugees a day have been crossing into Turkey over the past two weeks and the United Nations warned on Tuesday that up to 200,000 people could settle in Turkey if the conflict worsens.
Although there is no sign divided world powers are ready to back a buffer zone and no-fly zone, as rebels and aid organizations would like, UN Security Council foreign ministers are expected to discuss the idea at a meeting on Thursday which Davutoglu will attend.
In Iran, the parliament said it plans to propose the formation of a Non-Aligned Movement troika, plus two neighbor states, to help settle the Syria crisis. The country made the announced Wednesday at an ongoing meeting of the NAM summit.
"Our specific proposal to the NAM is formation of a troika committee for Syria consisting of Egypt, Iran and Venezuela," a head of the parliament's foreign policy commission, Alaeddin Bouroujerdi said.
Meanwhile, images of missiles and a video showing chemical weapons masks allegedly seized from the government were posted on the internet Wednesday by Syrian rebels.
The rebels said 10 missiles were seized outside the capital Damascus and the boxes of masks were found stacked in a government building in the northern city of Aleppo.
In the video, an unidentified man said the government had been distributing the masks to state institutions for use should chemical weapons be used against the rebels.
France, Britain and the United States have warned Damascus against the use of chemical or biological weapons.
The rebels also said they attacked a military helicopter base in Taftanaz, in Idlib province, along the border with Turkey.