Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the United States of repercussions if his country was targeted with air strikes, in an interview broadcast on US television Monday as US lawmakers consider measures authorising force against his regime.
President Bashar al-Assad has warned Washington it “should expect everything” if the US carries out military strikes against his war-torn country, in an interview with American television in which he repeatedly denied using chemical weapons on civilians.
“You're going to pay the price if you're not wise. There are going to be repercussions,” Assad told CBS television in an interview recorded in Damascus and broadcast on Monday. “It's an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”
“The government's not the only player in this region. You have different parties, different factions, different ideologies. You have everything in this decision now,” Assad said, adding repercussions “may take different forms,” including “direct and indirect.”
The White House and other Western powers have accused Assad of using lethal sarin nerve gas near the capital of Damascus on August 21, killing more than 1,400 people, and have threatened to target the Syrian government with strikes in retaliation.
The Syrian president also took issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying America’s top diplomat was spreading lies about the August 21 tragedy.
“How can you talk about what happened if you don't have evidences?
“In this case, Kerry didn't even present any evidence. He talks, 'We have evidence,' and he didn't present anything, not yet. Nothing so far... not a single shred of evidence,” Assad said in the interview, which he gave in English.
US vote looms over Syria
Assad’s dire warnings were aired on the eve of a planned television address by President Barack Obama to discuss possible intervention in Syria, as US lawmakers prepare to vote on authorising military force against Damascus later this week.
Obama was expected to present the case for precision strikes against government targets in an intervention to major US news networks and cable channels on Monday, ahead of an address to the nation on Tuesday.
Americans appeared to be reluctant to intervene in Syria, with recent public opinion polls showing that only 29% to 36% of people supported air strikes.
Assad told CBS that “any strike will be a direct support to al Qaeda offshoot” in Syria.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-09-09