Bashar al-Assad issued a warning about a possible attack on his country: if the United States and France strike, “Everyone will lose control of the situation … Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists,” the Syrian leader was quoted as saying in a French newspaper.
Assad also challenged America and France to provide proof of the use of chemical weapons. The Associated Press has the details:
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Assad was quoted as saying that Syria has challenged the U.S. and France to provide proof to support their allegations, but that their leaders "have been incapable of doing that, including before their own peoples."
"If the Americans, the French or the British had a shred of proof, they would have shown it beginning on the first day," he said, deriding Obama as "weak" and having buckled to U.S. domestic political pressure.
"We believe that a strong man is one who prevents war, not one who inflames it," Assad said.
French President Francois Hollande and Obama have been the two world leaders most vocally calling for action against Assad's regime, accusing it of carrying out a deadly chemical attack against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21.
The U.S. said it has proof that the Assad regime is behind attacks that Washington claims killed at least 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. […]
The Syrian government denies the allegations, and blames opposition fighters. In the Figaro interview, Assad questioned whether an attack took place at all and refused to say whether his forces have chemical weapons, as is widely believed.
The French government published an intelligence report on Monday that concluded Assad’s regime did use chemical weapons and could carry out a similar attack in the future. But France won’t strike Syria all by itself. The French parliament will meet Wednesday to debate Syria but a vote is not yet scheduled.