Assad ‘will go, dead or alive’

Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad is “finished” and will eventually leave power “dead or alive,” his Tunisian counterpart Moncef Marzouki said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

“The Russians, Chinese and Iranians,” who have been supporting Assad since an uprising against his rule erupted last year, “must understand that this man (Assad) is finished and that it is no longer possible to defend him,” Marzouki told the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily.

File photo - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during his visit to wounded troops who were injured in clashes with rebels against his regime, at Youssef al-Azmaha military hospital, in Damascus. Credit: REUTERS

“They must convince him to quit power and hand it over to his deputy,” he said.

“You will leave, in one way or another,” Marzouki said addressing Assad.

“You will leave, dead or alive. It is best for you and your family to leave alive because if you decide to leave dead, this would mean that you will cause the death of tens of thousands of innocent people.”

“You have caused enough bloodshed already.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 9 000 people have died in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.

In an attempt to oversee a ceasefire, 30 observers are expected in Syria in the coming days pending the arrival of an expanded team of up to 300 observers approved by the UN Security Council.

But it will be up to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to determine whether the situation is safe enough to deploy the 300 observers for an initial 90-day period, as part of a truce brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

“I don't think it (Annan's mission) will succeed as the number of observers is too small. Three hundred people can do nothing. In Kosovo there were 2 000 observers,” Marzouki said.

Nearly 60 people were killed on Monday in violence across Syria, the majority of them civilians, from government shelling and gunfire in the central city of Hama, despite the presence of UN monitors, a monitoring group said. - Sapa-AFP