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“You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government,” Assad told Rose in his first American TV interview in nearly two years.
Assad noted that his government is not the only player in the region, a reference to his allies in Iran and Hezbollah. The Syrian dictator would not confirm whether retaliation would include the use of chemical weapons.
President Obama has asked Congress to authorize military action against Syria, which allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people.
In his interview, Assad invoked memories of Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq, urging caution in taking military action against Syria.
“Before the 11th of September, in my discussions with many officials in the United States — some of them are congressmen — I used to say that don’t deal with the terrorists in playing games. It’s different story. You are going to pay the price, if you are not wise with dealing with terrorists,” Assad told Rose. “So nobody expect … we said there were going to be repercussions of the mistaken way of dealing with it … of treating the terrorism. But nobody expected the 11th of September. So you could not expect … It’s difficult for anyone to tell you what is going to happen. It’s area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”
Assad said that repercussions for U.S. actions against Syria could take various forms and not necessarily come from his government.
“It’s going to get worse with every strike or war. Worse in terms of repercussions. If you strike somewhere, you have to expect repercussions elsewhere,” he said.
Indirect effects, he said, could include instability to the region, saying an attack would support al-Qaida.
“This is the war that is going to support al-Qaida and the same people that kill Americans in the 11 of September,” Assad said.
Assad also claimed that an attack on Syria would be against the interests of the United States and said American credibility is at an all-time low.
He urged the president to show evidence that his government used chemical weapons, claiming that nothing had been presented yet.
“We have the president — precedent of Colin Powell 10 years ago when he showed the evidence. It was false, and it was forged,” Assad added. “This is first. Second, you want me to believe American evidence and don’t believe the indication that we have, we live here.”
Assad also told Rose that he is against chemical warfare.
CBS, which has heavily promoted Rose’s interview with Assad, aired excerpts from the sit-down throughout CBS This Morning on Monday.
The full interview will air on Rose’s eponymous PBS show at 9 p.m. Monday.
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