The Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 36,000 lives, according to activists, and displaced some 1.2 million people, according to the UN. A failure to end the fighting there could mean 700,000 Syrian refugees fleeing into neighboring countries by early 2013, reports the Associated Press. As many as 9,000 Syrians crossed into Turkey overnight to flee the violence in their country, a United Nations official told the AP, citing officials in Turkey where footage showed refugees climbing through the barbed-wire fence separating the two countries. More than 11,000 fled overall, flowing into Jordan and Lebanon as well as Turkey.
International intervention, Assad warned in his RT TV interview, however, would lead to global catastrophe.
“I think the price of this invasion, if it happened, is going to be more than the whole world can afford,” Assad said. The Assad family has ruled in Syria for the past 40 years, and Assad has often cited the fragility of the region and the role of Syria in balancing disparate religious minorities as key factors in maintaining regional stability, reports the Los Angeles Times.
“[W]e are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region and coexistence, let’s say. It will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and you know the implication on the rest of the world,” Assad told RT TV.
He said he didn’t believe the West would invade Syria, a sentiment reflected in editorials across the US, such as one entitled “The sensible course on Syria” published in the Los Angeles Times.