Syria’s Assad says too early to say if he’ll run for president again

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said it is still too early for him to decide on whether he will run for the country’s upcoming presidential elections next year.

Speaking during an interview with Turkish media, Assad said: “the picture will be clearer” in the next four to five months because Syria is going though “rapid” changes on the ground.

Assad told Halk TV that if he feels Syrians do not want him, he “will not run.”

The Syrian opposition wants him to step down and hand over power to a transitional government, with full powers until new elections are held.

Despite the civil war, Assad still enjoys wide support among minorities, including some Christians and Alawites, as well as some members of the Shiite Islam sect.

In the same speech, Assad warned Turkey that it will pay heavily for backing rebels to oust him from his presidency.

“It is not possible to put terrorism in your pocket and use it as a card because it is like a scorpion which won't hesitate to sting you at the first opportunity,” Assad said, according to a transcript published on Halk TV's website.

Assad has been president since 2000. His second seven-year-term ends in mid-2014.

(With the Associated Press)