Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied that his regime was behind an alleged chemical attack in Damascus in an interview with US network CBS. US intelligence suggests more than 1,400 people died in the attack.
The Syrian president insisted his government did not order last month's alleged attack on a Damascus suburb, CBS reported on Sunday on its news program "Face the Nation." Al-Assad told veteran correspondent Charlie Rose there was no conclusive evidence that an attack even took place.
"He denied that he had anything to do with the attack," Rose said, following an interview with al-Assad in Syria.
"The most important thing, as he says, is that 'there's no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people,'" Rose said.
The "Face the Nation" report summarized the interview, but did not contain any audio or video of Assad himself. The full interview will air on the CBS network as well as Rose's own PBS show "Charlie Rose" on Monday.
News of Assad's rare interview with a television network comes as the US Congress gears up to hold a vote on US-led military action in response to the reported attack on August 21. Congress reconvenes on Monday to debate the issue following a summer break. The vote is expected to take place next week.
According to Rose, Assad urged Congress against authorizing a strike, warning of possible repercussions.
Assad "suggested that there would be, among people that are aligned with him, some kind of retaliation if a strike was made," the CBS interviewer said
Washington claims that the Assad regime was behind the alleged attack which it says killed 1,429 Syrians, including around 400 children. Graphic videos released on Saturday purport to show dozens of people, including children, writhing around on the ground, some vomiting and foaming at the mouth, in the aftermath of the incident.
ccp/kms (AFP, Reuters)