Damascus: In an interview on state TV, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his government is in no danger of falling, despite months of protests. He said the solution in Syria was a political one, but violence should be dealt with firmly by the security forces.He said steps were being taken to introduce a multi-party system and elections might be held in February.
Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council is set to meet in Geneva to discuss the crisis, which has left some 2,500 dead.
The council is expected to pass a resolution condemning the Syrian government for its actions against demonstrators opposed to President Assad.
Earlier this month, UN investigators accused the Syrian security forces of widespread human rights violations.
On Friday, at least 40 people were reportedly killed across the country.
The US and several EU members have called on Mr Assad to step down.
Syria’s protests first erupted in mid-March. The demonstrators are demanding the removal of President Assad, whose family have been in power for 40 years.
Human rights groups say that about 2,000 civilians and 500 soldiers have been killed and thousands arrested since March. The government has blamed the unrest on “terrorist groups”.
In Sunday’s interview, Mr Assad warned that any foreign military intervention would backfire on those who carry it out.
“Any action against Syria will have greater consequences than they can tolerate,” the president said.
“First, because of Syria’s geopolitical location and second because of Syrian capabilities.”
He also said opponents of the regime were increasingly resorting to violence, carrying out attacks on the military, the police and other security forces.
Mr Assad added that it was US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders who should be standing down because of the blood they had spilled in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and because of their political, economic and social bankruptcy at home.
The interview was Mr Assad’s fourth public appearance since the protests began.
It came as a UN delegation has arrived in Syria to assess humanitarian needs.
The team has been told it can visit all trouble spots, but media reports say there is some scepticism about how free its movements will be.
Despite recent assurances from the president that the army and police operations against civilians had stopped, activists’ accounts and internet video postings indicate nothing much has changed.