WASHINGTON — Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned there will be "repercussions" against any U. S. military strike launched in response to a chemical weapons attack in his country.
"You should expect everything," Assad said in an interview with CBS taped in Damascus. "Not necessarily from the government. It's not only the government [...] in this region. You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology."
Asked if he was making a threat of a direct military response to any such attack, Assad was vague, saying at one point, "I am not fortune teller to tell you what's going to happen."
President Barack Obama is seeking authorization from Congress to launch what the administration says would be a limited-scope attack against Syria in reprisal for Assad's purported use of chemical weapons. Assad has denied it and argued in the interview broadcast Monday on "CBS This Morning" that Washington has presented no evidence to substantiate its allegations.
In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry reasserted Washington's argument and said that the evidence is sufficiently strong to be accepted as evidence in a court of law.
In the CBS interview, Assad said his forces were not in the area of the chemical weapons attack Aug. 21, saying "our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically. [...] But in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons, we only had video and we only have pictures and allegations. We're not there." Kerry said that Assad's denial is "contradicted by fact."
Asked if chemical warfare could be one repercussion from an American intervention in Syria, Assad told anchorman Charlie Rose: "That depends if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it. It could happen."
"You are going to pay the price if you are not wise with dealing with terrorists," he said.
Assad also said the current incident brings to mind memories of the arguments for intervention that President George W. Bush's administration made over a decade ago in connection with President Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Assad said Kerry's statements reminded him about "the big lie" that Secretary of State Colin Powell said to the United Nations about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
Assad also said the majority of Americans "don't want a war anywhere, not only against Syria." He said the first question the U.S. lawmakers should ask themselves is, "What do wars give America?" He said Washington's credibility is "at an all-time low."
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