Former Syrian general says Assad's days are numbered
Michael Vincent reported this story on Thursday, July 19, 2012 12:15:00 ABC News
ASHLEY HALL: Akil Hashem spent 27 years serving in the Syrian army, eventually rising to the rank of brigadier-general before he retired.
He's now living outside the country, where he's free to be an outspoken critic of the Assad regime.
As such, he's regularly called for outside military intervention to end what he calls the 'barbaric genocide' committed by government forces against the Syrian people.
He's speaking here to Michael Vincent.
AKIL HASHEM: The situation is very critical. I consider this regime as a wounded tiger. So he might go for desperate measures. I don't exclude the possibility that this regime in the next few days might use the air force to bomb some certain areas in Syria and kill thousands of people.
MICHAEL VINCENT: You think the regime is collapsing and is capable of a scorched earth type of policy?
AKIL HASHEM: Yes, I think now we are open to all kind of possibilities. This is a turning point in the revolution. This is the beginning of the end. I don't exclude the possibility of Bashar al-Assad being assassinated just after few days. I don't exclude the possibility of fleeing, fleeing the country tonight or tomorrow, I don't know.
MICHAEL VINCENT: Who would give him safe haven if he fled Syria do you believe?
AKIL HASHEM: So far there is three countries are capable to give him a safe haven like Russia, China and Iran and most likely Iran. But also there is the possibility of a military coup might happen in the top of the regime collapsing, the regime even the brother himself might try to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.
Even there will be, I believe a huge amount of defection within the inner circle of this regime. The situation is open for all possibilities.
MICHAEL VINCENT: Up until now the Free Syrian army has not had the fire power to take the Syrian military on offensively. They have only had access to machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. Do you believe that they now have enough hardware to take out the tanks and the helicopters of the Assad forces?
AKIL HASHEM: No, no, they don't have. They lack the heavy weaponry of course and they are
outnumbered by the regime but they have something the regime doesn't have at all which is the morale, the high morale, the belief in their cause. And their willing to sacrifice and they proved that so many times before, they sacrificed their life willingly to get rid of this regime.
So in that regard, in this outbreak we are more powerful than the regime itself in spite of all the tanks and artillery and air planes and helicopters the regime have.
MICHAEL VINCENT: What will you be looking for in the coming hours, days and weeks? What ground do they have to make in terms of improving their position strategically at the moment?
AKIL HASHEM: With freedom fighters have change their strategy recently from a defensive strategy to offensive strategy so now they are fighting the regime in his capital and everywhere in Syria. Now they are getting more organised, they are getting more under a central leadership. It is not completely established so far but they're getting better and better day after day so this will make a huge difference.
So now after all the development we can expect for sure that the freedom fighters will have the upper hand well soon interior. I cannot give you a date, an certain date but it is coming very, very soon.
MICHAEL VINCENT: How long do you think the people in Damascus can hold out in terms of food, water and medicine?
AKIL HASHEM: Yeah, they can hold for a long, long time. Damascus is a six million people and there are people in Damascus will hold for a long time before they start accumulating food and water and everything because they anticipated that they eventually the struggle will come to the capital so they can hold for a long, long time.
There is so many storage for the government and otherwise or other company of food and all kinds of supplies and even with their medical supplies where in Homs and other part of Syria didn't have any medical supplies at all.
Here in Damascus everything is available so I will anticipate a long-term fighting in Damascus.
ASHLEY HALL: The retired Syrian brigadier-general Akil Hashem, speaking to Michael Vincent.