Syrian President Bashar Assad told The Sunday Telegraph that intervention against his regime could cause "another Afghanistan".
Western countries "are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely," he said. "But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different.
"Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?
"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region."
The Syrian leader admitted that "many mistakes" had been made by his forces in the early part of the uprising, but insisted that only "terrorists" were now being targeted. "We have very few police, only the army, who are trained to take on al-Qaeda," Assad said. "If you sent in your army to the streets, the same thing would happen. Now, we are only fighting terrorists. That's why the fighting is becoming much less."