Syria's Bashar al-Assad denies responsibility for violence
Syria's president has said that he has given no orders for security forces to use violence against people involved in a 10-month uprising against him.
In an interview with the US network ABC, Bashar al-Assad said he did not own the security forces or the country.
He cast doubts on reports of brutality and said he felt no guilt about what was happening.
At least 4,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March, the UN estimates.
Syria blames the violence on "armed criminal gangs".
Mr Assad's interview comes a day after the US announced that its ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, would return to Damascus after he was withdrawn in October because of security concerns.
France's ambassador returned on Monday.
UN 'not credible'
Responding to questions from veteran presenter Barbara Walters about the brutality of the crackdown, Mr Assad said the security forces were not his, nor did he command them.
"There was no command, to kill or to be brutal," he said.
"I don't own them, I am president, I don't own the country so they are not my forces."
When challenged about reports of house-to-house arrests, including of children, Mr Assad said the sources could not be relied upon.
"We have to be here to see. We don't see this. So we cannot depend on what you hear," he said.
The United Nations, which has said the Syrian government committed crimes against humanity, was not credible, Mr Assad said.
He described Syria's membership of the UN as "a game we play".
Mr Assad also denied feeling any guilt about the crackdown.
"I did my best to protect the people, so I cannot feel guilty," he said. "You feel sorry for the lives that has [sic] been lost. But you don't feel guilty - when you don't kill people."