Washington, Dec 8: The United States said on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was disconnected from reality or "crazy" after he argued he was not responsible for killing thousands of protesters.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner reiterated the US view that Assad has lost legitimacy and should step down after the Syrian leader said in a rare interview that "only a crazy person" would kill his own people.
"It either says that he's completely lost any power that he had within Syria, that he's simply a tool or that he's completely disconnected with reality," Toner told reporters.
"It's either disconnection, disregard or, as he said, crazy. I don't know," Toner said.
"What we insist is that he has lost all credibility in the eyes of his people and needs to step down," he said.
Toner challenged the Syrian strongman to allow in international monitors to verify his assertions. The Arab League, which has suspended Syria, has been pushing to send in observers.
"Just taking at face value his denial that there's anything going on there," Toner said, "why not let international monitors, human rights monitors -- which is what the Arab League is proposing -- into Syria as well as international media and allow them to report transparently on what's happening there?"
Toner said there was "a clear campaign against peaceful protesters" and "accountability with that ultimately rests on Assad and his cronies."
White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier said that Assad's views were "not credible."
Assad said in an interview with ABC News that no government in the world would kill its people "unless it's led by a crazy person" and said he did not "own" the security forces carrying out the violence.
Toner, reacting Tuesday to excerpts of the interview, called Assad's views "ludicrous," triggering a rebuke from Syria's foreign ministry which accused the State Department spokesman of distorting the president's comments.