CAIRO – Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday repeated promises of reforms and warned of “repercussions” should the West choose to intervene militarily in the uprising threatening his family’s four-decade rule.

Assad’s remarks during a choreographed question-and-answer session that aired live on state TV did not diverge from the message his regime had sent since the start of the rebellion last spring: reforms are coming soon, the uprising is the work of militants, and interference from the West is an assault on Syria’s sovereignty. He said the uprising could be “controlled.”

Syrian opposition activists, in interviews and through social-networking sites, immediately rejected Assad’s words as hollow, and vowed to continue their efforts to unseat him. But the opposition lacks cohesion and remains divided on issues such as whether to take up arms now that five months of peaceful demonstrations have failed to bring down — or even severely cripple — the regime.

“Although the regime is very violent towards the Syrian people, we insist the movement maintain its peaceful stand,” said Louay Safi, chairman of the Syrian American Council and part of a large opposition gathering this weekend in Istanbul. “After months of suppression, there are naturally some groups on the ground who want to use arms. But we are telling them not to do that.”