Assad: Meddle in Syria, Burn Whole Region Syrian president tells West to butt out or face 'an earthquake' By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Oct 30, 2011 5:39 AM CDT 25 comments Comments In this Oct. 21, 2010 file photo, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad smiles as he shakes hands with Venesuela's President Hugo Chafez, not seen, at the Syrian presidential palace, in Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, file) (Newser) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is warning the West not to get involved in the unrest in his country or it will face "an earthquake" or "tens of Afghanistans," he tells the Telegraph. "Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen," he said in his first interview with a Western journalist since uprisings began in March. "Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region." With at least 3,000 civilians killed since protests began, Assad said that "many mistakes" have been made by his security forces, but now "we are only fighting terrorists." Assad also insisted that Syria had immediately pursued reform within days of the protests' beginnings. "We didn't go down the road of stubborn government," he said. "Six days after [the protests began] I commenced reform." (Protesters probably would say otherwise). Assad also emphasized that he was fighting against Muslim extremism: "We've been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s and we are still fighting with them," he said.