Washington: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
has given an interview to US television in a rare attempt to
defend his regime`s deadly crackdown on protests to a Western
audience, ABC News said Tuesday.
The network said veteran television personality Barbara
Walters travelled to Damascus to speak to Assad, who gave his
first interview to US media since he launched the
nine-month-old assault which the UN says has killed 4,000
ABC News said that it would air the interview Wednesday.
It said Walters questioned the Syrian leader about a recent UN
report that documented the killing and torture of civilians
Walters also pressed Assad on his "violent crackdown on
protesters, the impact of economic and travel sanctions
against his country, calls for the president to step down and
whether he will allow Arab League monitors and foreign press
free and unrestricted access to Syria," the network said.
Syria has come under intense international pressure as
Assad tries to crush the worst threat to his family`s
four-decade rule over the country.
The Arab League has threatened to impose new sanctions
unless Syria lets in monitors. In a letter late Sunday,
Assad`s regime said it will allow monitors but only if
conditions are met.
Syria accuses "armed terrorist groups" of fuelling the
unrest, which comes amid a wave of street protests across the
Arab world this year that have toppled authoritarian regimes
in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Walters, 82, is known for interviews that seek to probe
high-profile figures` personal sides. She is a creator of the
popular ABC News morning show "The View," which features a
panel of women hosts.