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Assad insists he will not quit

Syrian President Bashar al-Assadinsisted he will not resign before the end of his mandate in 2014 as a car bomb exploded in the capital Damascus on Saturday killing at least three people.

‘To resign would be to flee,’ Assad said in an interview with the Argentine newspaper Clarin when asked if he would consider stepping aside as called for by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

‘I don’t know if Kerry or anyone else has received the power of the Syrian people to talk in their name about who should go and who should stay. That will be determined by the Syrian people in the 2014 presidential elections.’

He nevertheless said he welcome a US-Russian peace initiative to end Syria’s two-year civil war. The US and Russia are trying to convene a peace conference in Geneva that would bring together members of the regime and the rebels fighting to oust Assad.

‘We have received the Russian-US approach well and we hope that there will be an international conference to help Syrians overcome the crisis,’ Clarin quoted Assad as saying.

He added, however, that ‘we do not believe that many Western countries really want a solution in Syria. And we don’t think that the forces that support the terrorists want a solution to the crisis.’ Syria calls the rebels who have been fighting to overthrow the regime ‘terrorists’.

Saturday evening state television accused ‘terrorists’ of detonating a car bomb in a north Damascus neighbourhood, saying it killed at least three people and wounded five others.

The state broadcaster said the bomb was placed in a car in the Rokn Eddin neighbourhood and that a disposal team was sent in.
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