WASHINGTON, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – The United States and its allies should “expect everything” if military strikes are launched against Syria, as the Middle East teeters on “the brink of explosion,” Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in excerpts of an interview with a veteran US journalist that aired Monday.
“You should expect everything, not necessarily through the government,” Assad told “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose in what CBS said was the first television interview given by the embattled Syrian leader since President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve military action against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack last month that Washington has blamed on the Assad regime.
“Everything is on the brink of explosion – you have to expect everything,” Assad said, warning that his government is not in control of the volatile situation in Syria, where the United Nations says at least 100,000 people have been killed in a three-and-a-half-year civil war, because it is "not the only player in this region."
"You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies. You have everything in this region now… Everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything,” Assad said.
Asked by Rose if that included a possible chemical weapons attack, Assad added: “It depends if the rebels or terrorists in this region have it. It could happen, I don’t know.”
When asked if he was threatening a military response to a US attack, Assad said, “I am not a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.”
In the interview, which will be aired in its entirety on “The Charlie Rose Show” on PBS Monday evening in the United States, the Syrian leader denied that he had anything to do with the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb, in which the United States has said killed more than 1,400 people, including 426 children.
He denied that he “even knew, in fact, that there was a chemical weapons attack,” Rose said.
Assad called on the United States to publicly lay out the evidence that Washington has said squarely implicates the Assad regime in the alleged attack, Rose said as he summarized the key points of the interview, which was conducted over the weekend in Damascus.
The Obama administration has shared intelligence, which allegedly shows troops loyal to Assad preparing for and carrying out the Aug. 21 attack, with some members of Congress, but has withheld the evidence from the US public, which polls show to be broadly opposed to military strikes against Syria.
Rose said Assad asked in the interview to pass a message to the American people, urging them to lobby their members of Congress to vote against military action in Syria.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate could vote this week on whether to give Obama the authority to launch military strikes on Syria, but a poll conducted by the USA Today newspaper found that only 22 senators and 22 members of the House out of a total of 533 lawmakers in both houses said they would vote in favor of the use of force in Syria if the vote were held Monday.
During the interview, Rose described the Syrian capital as calm, and said Assad told him that Syrians “are prepared as best we can be” for an attack, even though they did not assume the United States would go ahead with a strike.