U.S. should 'expect everything' in response to any Syria strikes: Assad

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 9, 2013 12:43pm EDT

1 of 2. 'CBS This Morning' co-host Charlie Rose (L) interviews Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Presidential Palace in Damascus, Syria in this September 9, 2013 handout photo.

Credit: Reuters/CBS News/Handout

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned of possible reprisal attacks if the United States uses military force against Syria, saying that if there were strikes, Americans could "expect every action."

Assad, in an interview with CBS television that aired on Monday, denied involvement in a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21.

The United States says more than 1,400 people were killed in the attack, which it blames on Assad's forces. President Barack Obama has threatened military strikes against Syria as punishment.

Assad, who has accused the rebels of the poison gas attack, said that if there were U.S. strikes on Syria, the United States "should expect everything."

Repercussions "may take different forms," including "direct and indirect" effects, Assad told CBS in the interview, which was conducted in Damascus.

Indirect impacts could include "instability and the spread of terrorism all over the region that will influence the West directly," Assad said.

He said there could be repercussions against the United States from other countries or groups such as Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah.

His comments come as Obama prepares to press his case for military action before the American public and U.S. lawmakers this week. Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to authorize a military strike, and votes could come as early as this week.

In the meantime, Assad said: "We have to expect the worst."

Assad repeatedly rejected the idea that there is any evidence linking his government to the August 21 attack, and he blasted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to round up international support for military strikes.

He also told CBS the Syrian government opposes the use of chemical weapons. "We are against any WMD, any weapons of mass destruction whether chemical or nuclear." Asked if he considers chemical warfare equivalent to nuclear warfare, Assad said: "I don't know. We haven't tried either."

To Obama, Assad said: "I will tell him very simply, "Present what you have as evidence ... to the public. Be transparent."

Kerry dismissed Assad's denial of involvement in the attack.

"We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack," Kerry said at a news conference in London, one of several European stops in recent days to make the U.S. case for military action.

Assad said that any U.S. strikes would boost the al Qaeda offshoot in his country: "It's going to be direct support."

"It's area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything," Assad said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Eric Beech)

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Comments (23)
amos033 wrote:
It would be wise for Congress to consider all the ramifications of an attack on Syria in a limited strike. Be prepared to go all out or don’t go at all. Do you congressman want to be responsible for WMDs hitting Tel Aviv? Do you congresswoman want to be responsible for starting WWIII? Do you Senator want to be responsible for relentless attacks on America? If you do vote to attack then be prepared to remove all WMDs from Syria and that will require boots on the ground to secure and remove them from both the Assad regime and the Muslim Brotherhood including of course Al Qaeda!

Sep 09, 2013 9:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Abbotson wrote:
A purely hypothetical comment. What if Assad is right and he does not have chemical weapons? The videos shown by the US defense dept are not entirely convincing and it reminds me of Colin Powell’s puppet show at the UN in February of 2007. To me the scene in the videos shown appear staged. And who says that the Islamist fanatics could not have obtained Sarin gas an even tossed gas canisters or fired mini-missiles from small hand held launchers effective in small enclosed areas in the hope of drawing the US into the conflict? Japanese terrorists let lose nerve gas, without missiles in the Tokyo subway with deadly effect not so long ago.If Assad is fighting the various Syrian ‘moderate’ rebel groups in urban areas as well as battling the mostly foreign Islamic fanatics he could achieve just as much an maybe more by using conventional weapons giving the excuse that he is protecting his legitimate regime and it is not his fault that the other sides are deliberately basing their fighters among civilians. Just as the US claims collateral damage when its drones bomb Afghan or Pakistani wedding parties in attempts to exterminate the Taliban. Ruthless and cruel Assad may well be when threatened and using his own ‘shock and awe’ tactics somehow I do not think he would really have wanted to draw Obama into the conflict on the side of his enemies and target him with missiles. Assad , a cold sinister fish, does not appear to be quite the blusterous mad man that Saddam Hussein seemed to be.

Sep 09, 2013 9:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Abbotson wrote:
A purely hypothetical comment. What if Assad is right and he does not have chemical weapons? The videos shown by the US defense dept are not entirely convincing and it reminds me of Colin Powell’s puppet show at the UN in February of 2007. To me the scene in the videos shown appear staged. And who says that the Islamist fanatics could not have obtained Sarin gas an even tossed gas canisters or fired mini-missiles from small hand held launchers effective in small enclosed areas in the hope of drawing the US into the conflict? Japanese terrorists let lose nerve gas, without missiles in the Tokyo subway with deadly effect not so long ago.If Assad is fighting the various Syrian ‘moderate’ rebel groups in urban areas as well as battling the mostly foreign Islamic fanatics he could achieve just as much an maybe more by using conventional weapons giving the excuse that he is protecting his legitimate regime and it is not his fault that the other sides are deliberately basing their fighters among civilians. Just as the US claims collateral damage when its drones bomb Afghan or Pakistani wedding parties in attempts to exterminate the Taliban. Ruthless and cruel Assad may well be when threatened and using his own ‘shock and awe’ tactics somehow I do not think he would really have wanted to draw Obama into the conflict on the side of his enemies and target him with missiles. Assad , a cold sinister fish, does not appear to be quite the blusterous mad man that Saddam Hussein seemed to be.

Sep 09, 2013 9:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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