Assad, according to the paper, explained he would be like any other Syrian citizen after “the weight of presidency” is lifted off him in 2014. He will then have two options: running for a second term or resuming his work as an opthalmologist and living a peaceful life.

Assad was quoted as saying that “there is talk that I should step down or announce I will not run for reelection. I won’t do that and will reserve my right to push my candidacy. If I decide not to, I will nevertheless stay in Damascus. I have family, friends and country.

“I will serve my country and continue to work at my clinic even if I am not president.” He further added, “The ballots will decide between me and the others.”…

He also reportedly expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in Syria. “The images of carnage are painful. Some people forget I am flesh and blood. I’m not a wild animal and you must keep in mind I am a doctor and it pains me to see death.”