Washington: Accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being "totally disconnected" from his people and carrying out a clear campaign against peaceful protesters, the United States has asked him to allow international monitors in the country and step down.
The call from the US came as Assad in his first interview to an American news channel claimed that he never ordered killing or torture of his own people.
In a rare interview, Assad spoke Monday to ABC News in a bid to defend himself amid growing global condemnation of the nine-month-old assault which the UN says has killed 4,000
In the interview Assad denied he ordered a crackdown and blamed the violence on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al Qaeda.
"We have seen the excerpts of the interview. He appears to deny much of his regime`s brutality," the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said.
"My point is very clear, if he was backing up his claims that there was nothing going on, that the way to allow that to be proved is by allowing international monitors, which is exactly what we`re asking for.
"Of course we believe that the UN`s reports and other reports on, you know, the thousands -- 4,000-plus dead are credible and shocking," Toner said in response to a question.
"Just from what happened or what took place in the interview, he appeared utterly disconnected with the reality that`s going on in his country and the brutal repression that`s being carried out against the Syrian people.
"It`s either disconnection, disregard or, as he said, crazy. I don`t know," Toner said.
"Either he`s completely lost any power that he had within
Syria, that he`s simply a tool or that he`s completely disconnected with reality.
"It`s hard for us to say but what we insist is that he
has lost all credibility in the eyes of his people and needs
to step down," Toner said.
"Judging by the content of this interview, it seems ?he`s
at least trying to create an image of himself as someone who`s
not pulling the levers here.
"But what is very clear is that the Syrian security
apparatus is carrying out a clear campaign against peaceful
"That blame or responsibility or accountability with that
ultimately rests on Assad and his cronies," Toner said.