Assad warns of ‘regional war’ in French interview

Photo: AFP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a French newspaper Monday that military intervention from France and the United States could set off a “powder keg” and “regional war”, while denying his forces had used chemical weapons.


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told French daily Le Figaro Monday that the use of nerve gas against targets in rebel-held parts of Syria would have been “illogical”, while warning that an attack on his country could set off a “regional war”.

In excerpts of an interview to be published in full in Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper, Assad challenged French President François Hollande and US President Barack Obama to provide convincing proof that he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people.

"Those who make accusations must show evidence,” he told Le Figaro. “We challenge the United States and France to do this. Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing this, including for their own people.”

Assad, who has been waging a two-and-a-half-year civil war against a rebel coalition that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, said he would neither deny nor admit that his country possessed such weapons -- but insisted it would have been tactically illogical for his forces to use them against the alleged targets.

Military intervention against his country, he added, would “set off a powder keg” that “everyone would lose control of once ignited”.

“Chaos and extremism would ensue,” he said. “There is a risk of regional war.”

France, he warned, would become the enemy of the Syrian state: “Whoever contributes financial or military support to the terrorists is an enemy of the Syrian people," he said, adding: “If the French state shows itself to be hostile to the Syrian people, that state becomes its enemy."

Assad also warned of consequences for France if it chooses this path. “This hostility will only end when the French state changes its policies," he said. "There will certainly be negative repercussions for French interests.”



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