As the United Nations estimates the number of refugees fleeing Syria would nearly double to 700,000 by early next year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied a civil war in his country, and insisted his country supports him.
John Ging, operations director for the United Nations humanitarian office, said that the number of people inside the country needing humanitarian aid could increase from 2.5 million to 4 million by early next year should the violence between the Shi'ites and the country's Sunni majority.
“People need to be aware of just how desperate the situation is inside Syria for the people there, how unbearable it is, and how they are suffering and falling into ever deeper despair and humanitarian need,” Ging said in Geneva prior to the fifth Syria Humanitarian Forum. “It’s just getting a lot worse very rapidly for the ordinary people.”
He appealed for more countries to contribute financial aid, The Washington Post reported. Currently aid is provided by the European Union, the United States, Britain, Germany, Russia, Norway, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland.
But al-Assad on Friday told the Russian Times, "We do not have a civil war. it is about terrorism and the support coming from abroad to terrorists to destabilize Syria."
The president acknowledged "divisions" and "ethnic or sectarian tensions" in the country, but added, "This do not make them problem(s)."
The Russian Times continued:
Assad told RT that the West creates scapegoats as enemies – from communism, to Islam, to Saddam Hussein. He accused Western countries of aiming to turn him into their next enemy.
While mainstream media outlets generally report on the crisis as a battle between Assad and Syrian opposition groups, the president claims that his country has been infiltrated by numerous terrorist proxy groups fighting on behalf of other powers.
In the event of a foreign invasion of Syria, Assad warned, the fallout would be too dire for the world to bear.
Still, Jonathon Burch and Rania El Gamal of Reuters report that 11,000 Syrians fled the country on Friday alone—most to Turkey—in one of the largest exodus in 20 months of violence, according to the United Nations.
Most escaped to Turkey, where Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan berated the U.N. Security Council why it had not intervened yet in the violence.
"It is very strange," Reuters reported Erdogan said. "There are currently atrocities being committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a state leader," he said. "How far will this go? When will the permanent members of the Security Council take responsibility?"