Syria's Assad denies ordering deadly crackdown

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY | December 7, 2011 | 6:45 AM EST

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's president has denied that he ordered a deadly crackdown on a nearly 9-month-old uprising against his rule.

He claimed in a rare interview with ABC's Barbara Walters airing Wednesday that most of the people who died in the unrest were his own supporters and troops.

Assad maintains he did not give a command "to kill or be brutal."

The U.N. estimates some 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. Activists say most of those killed were civilians.