Assad Rains Leaflets on Damascus: 'Surrender or Die'
In interview, he suggests he's dug in for the long haul
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2012 7:50 AM CDT
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian president, Bashar Assad, performs Eid prayers in the Hamad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012.   (AP Photo/SANA)
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(Newser) – Syrian government helicopters rained fliers across Damascus yesterday telling rebels to surrender or "die a dishonorable death." One of the fliers was a "safe passage card," promising humane treatment for fighters who showed up at a checkpoint unarmed, the Washington Post reports. Rebels fear the fliers signal a new wave of violence. "Total cleansing of the cities—I think this is their new strategy," one rebel said, adding that incidents like the Daraya massacre sent that message even more loudly.

In a TV interview set to air tonight, Bashar al-Assad indicated that he was prepared for a long, drawn-out conflict. "We’re fighting a battle both locally and internationally," he said. "So we might need time to win it. But I can say one sentence: We’re heading forward." He criticized Turkey in particular, saying that Syria had a good "relationship with the Turkish people," but that its leaders were "ignorant." Turkey is often cited as a main supporter of the rebels. Assad spoke with a station that is technically private, but majority-owned by his cousin, the AP reports.