Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the United States to “expect everything” if it carries out strikes against targets in Syria.
“Nobody could expect what will happen if U.S. attacks,” Assad told Charlie Rose in an interview that aired Monday on CBS “This Morning.” Rose’s interview was the first on-camera interview Assad has granted since an alleged chemical-weapons attack against his own people on Aug. 21.
Assad said that retaliation wouldn’t necessarily come from the Syrian government, telling Rose that it is “not the only player in this region” — referring to Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.
“Nobody expected the 11th of September,” Assad said. “It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”
Assad spent most of the interview hitting the United States’ credibility from past Middle East conflict missteps, most prominently the war in Iraq.
“We are disappointed. We expected this administration [to be] different than [the George W.] Bush administration,” Assad told Rose.
He also brushed back U.S. claims that he was responsible for the alleged chemical attack, which the U.S. says killed 1,429 people, including 426 children. He said Secretary of State John Kerry hasn’t presented a “single shred” of evidence — citing the evidence of Russia, which is a staunch ally of Syria.
Assad’s comments come as U.S. President Barack Obama is attempting to convince Congress to approve his plan for limited, targeted strikes in response to the chemical attack. Early whip counts show that Congress is unlikely to authorise such action.
Obama will go on a media blitz of his own beginning on Monday, when he will give interviews to six networks. He’ll address the nation in a primetime speech Tuesday night.
The full interview between Rose and Assad air Monday night at 9 p.m. on PBS.
Here’s a clip from “CBS This Morning”:
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