Assad says he doesn’t rule out US attack
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that he does not discount the possibility of a U.S. military attack even though threatened action was forestalled when he agreed to give up chemical weapons.
Assad also said in an interview broadcast by Venezuela’s state-run Telesur network that his government has confessions from rebels that they brought chemical weapons into the civil war-wracked nation.
According to the broadcast’s Spanish dubbing, Assad said all evidence pointed to rebel responsibility for the attack.
He said that Syrian authorities had uncovered chemical arms caches and labs and that the evidence had been turned over to Russia, which brokered the deal that helped persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to pull back from threatened military action over an Aug. 21 gas attack that killed civilians in a Damascus suburb.
In a speech at the U.N. on Tuesday, Obama said he would not use military force to depose Assad. But Washington and Moscow remain at odds on how to hold Syria accountable if it does not live up to its pledge to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpile.
Assad predicted during the 40-minute interview that “terrorists” would try to block access of U.N. inspectors who enter Syria to secure the government’s chemical arsenal.
While Assad said he had evidence that countries including Saudi Arabia were arming Syrian rebels, he said he had no proof that any particular country had supplied them with chemical weapons.
He was also asked about the apparent thaw in relations between the U.S. and Iran, his government’s chief patron in the region.
Assad called the development positive but added that he did not consider it to mean that Tehran’s leaders trust Washington. He said it was important that the U.S. stop pressuring Iran not to have nuclear technology.
Assad also accused the Obama administration of lying to U.S. citizens by claiming it has proof that Assad’s government was responsible for the Aug. 21 gas attack.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria’s 2 1/2-year-old civil war.