World Bulletin / News Desk
President Bashar al-Assad said Syrian rebels would not be victorious in their fight against his government although the "door to dialogue remains open".
In comments to the Egyptian weekly magazine Al-Ahram Al-Araby, to be published on Friday, Assad said "the armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society ... they will not be victorious in the end".
At least 54 people were killed when an air strike hit a fuel station in Syria's northern province of al-Raqqa on Thursday. Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old conflict.
Speaking from his office in the heart of Damascus, Assad said "change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention".
"Both sides of the equation are equal and political dialogue is the only solution. Violence, however, is not allowed ... and the state will not stand with its hands tied in the face of those who bear arms against it," Assad was quoted as saying.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met Assad on Saturday in his first visit to Damascus as peace envoy. Brahimi said his visit confirmed that the situation was "extremely dangerous and escalating".
Assad said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic about Brahimi's mission.
"I welcome dialogue with the national opposition but those who choose arms have put themselves in confrontation with the Syrian Arab army," said Assad, who admitted there was corruption and mistakes had been made.
Assad's rule structure draws mainly on his Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, while the opposition is largely from the Sunni Muslim majority, enjoying the support of Sunni leaders who rule nearly all Arab states.
Criticising Qatar and Saudi Arabia for siding against him, Assad accused the Gulf states of trying to create a regional role for themselves by fuelling chaos in Syria and other Arab countries.
"Those have suddenly become wealthy after very long period of poverty," Assad said of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "They imagine they can use their wealth to buy the geography, history and a regional role.
"Bringing down the governments of the Arab world has not worked in the interest of freedom, democracy or ending social injustice as much as it helped create chaos."
Assad also criticised Turkey, regarded as a key player in supporting Syria's opposition, for calling for the demise of Assad's government. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also demanded that Assad step down.
Russia and China, staunch supporters of Assad, have vetoed proposed U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to put pressure on the Syrian leader and China has repeatedly said it opposes forceful foreign intervention.
Ukraine has informed the Russian airline it will impose tight restrictions on the entry of Russian men into the country
Ukrainian central broadcasting officials confirmed that the group, who were assumed to be pro-Russia separatists, had managed to twice unplug two Ukrainian news channels
Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun said at a meeting with counterparts from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to tighten control over the Internet and take other steps to prevent "external forces" from fomenting revolution
Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats held emergency talks seeking to resolve a confrontation that has seen pro-Russian fighters seize official buildings across eastern Ukraine while Moscow masses tens of thousands of troops on the frontier
The IAEA update showed that Iran had diluted half of its higher-grade enriched uranium reserve to a fissile content less prone to bomb proliferation.
The statement came after U.N. sanctions monitors called for the world body to stop allowing arms to be shipped to the U.N. mission in Mali after they said a load of military hardware sent by China violated U.N. restrictions.
Government officials in the tiny central African state reacted angrily to the warning by the U.N. mission
The European Rohingya Council accused Myanmar of "slow-burning genocide".
The brigades have claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut in February of this year and last November.
A multinational group of five small ships - four minesweepers and a support vessel - will be sent to the Baltic Sea "for the foreseeable future",
According to the official, the peacekeeping force will be composed of troops from all five IGAD member states: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia.
The officials said the original list had been based on estimates, not exact amounts of toxic agents found in storage and production facilities across Syria.
Having already called for the state to be accepted into NATO alongside Georgia to protect them from Russian expansion plans, McCain reiterated these calls in his visit to students at the Academy for Economic Studies.
A 48-hour RMT strike in February brought the network to a virtual standstill and caused travel misery for millions of commuters
The Friends of Yemen group pledged around $7.9 billion in aid in 2012, but most of the funds have been delayed because of technical issues and lagging approvals by donor heads of state
Belarus and Kazakhstan are already members alongside Russia, with Armenia expected to join the bloc soon.