This must be read in its entirety to be believed. But these are some of the things Syrian President Bashar Assad told ABC News.
In a rare interview that aired Wednesday, Assad told ABC News that although he is president he does not "own the country, so they are not my forces." The Syrian leader said there is "a big difference" between having "a policy to crack down and having mistakes committed by some officials."
Assad questioned the U.N. death toll of 4,000 since unrest erupted in March, saying most victims were government supporters. He also denied the veracity of claims that Hamza al-Khateeb, 13, whose death galvanized protests and inflamed world opinion was killed after being shot, burned and castrated.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner repeated the U.S. view that Assad is engaged in a brutal crackdown on a peaceful opposition movement. He said he finds it "ludicrous" that the Syrian president is "attempting to hide behind a sort of shell game and claim he does not exercise authority in his own country."
If Assad were Pinocchio, his nose would be the size of a cue stick. Either he is oblvious to the fact that no one believes his lies, or he is so out of touch with reality, he actually believes what he's saying.
Either way, it means the bloodshed will continue.