"There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference," he said.
"They're not my forces. They are military forces (who) belong to the government. I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country."
In his role as president, Mr Assad is the commander of Syria's armed forces.
The president also dismissed a recent UN report which estimated that more than 4,000 people have died since uprisings began.
"Who said that the United Nations is a credible institution?" he said.
"Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa." Read More