|Assad warns against strike, says it could trigger regional war||
France released an intelligence report on Monday alleging chemical weapons use by Syria's regime that dovetailed with similar U.S. claims, as President Bashar Assad warned that any military strike against his country would spark an uncontrollable regional war and spread “chaos and extremism.”
The verbal crossfire, including a rejection of the Western allegations by longtime Syrian ally Russia, was part of frenzied efforts on both sides to court international public opinion after President Barack Obama said he would seek authorization from Congress before launching any military action against Assad's regime, CBS News reported on Tuesday.
“The Middle East is a powder keg, and today the flame is coming very near. We cannot talk merely about the Syrian response, but about what might take place after the first strike. But nobody knows what will happen. Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread. There is a risk of regional war,” Assad said in an interview published Monday by French newspaper Le Figaro.
Assad has derided allegations from the West that his government was behind alleged chemical attacks in the country. He challenged the world to provide “the slightest proof” he had used chemical weapons against his own people, and questioned the logic behind such accusations, RT reported on Tuesday.
“Supposing that our army wants to use weapons of mass destruction… Is it possible that it does so in an area that it is itself in, and where soldiers are wounded by these weapons, which UN inspectors noted while visiting hospitals in which they were treated. Where is the logic?” the Syrian leader said.
“We have challenged the United States and France to come up with a single piece of proof,” he told Le Figaro. “Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing so.”
“Anybody who contributes to the financial and military reinforcement of terrorists is the enemy of the Syrian people. If the policies of the French state are hostile to the Syrian people, the state will be their enemy,” Assad said, adding that the French people themselves were not enemies, but the French government’s policies were regarded as hostile.
“There will be repercussions, negative ones obviously, on French interests,” he concluded.
Assad said that any military action from the country would spark negative repercussions on French interests, calling the region a “powder keg.”
“The whole world will lose control of the situation. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists,” he said. Assad’s comments came before the French intelligence report was published.
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