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Assad warns US against attack on Syria
September 9, 2013, 10:25 am

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has warned the US against striking his country and denied ever using chemical weapons as the Barack Obama administration tries to drum up support for a military strike.

In an interview with the US broadcaster CBS, Assad said an attack by international forces may prompt retaliation from Syria's allies.

The Syrian president denied that he was behind the chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people and said evidence was not conclusive that there had been such an attack, CBS reported.

"There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," CBS on Sunday quoted Assad as saying in an interview conducted by Charlie Rose in Damascus.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, dismissed any claim by the Syrian president that there was no evidence he used chemical weapons against his own people, saying on Sunday that "the evidence speaks for itself".

Kerry made the remark in response to a question as he began a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on July 29, according to a US reporter who attended a photo session on behalf of other journalists travelling with him.

The US, along with other Western and regional countries, accuses the Assad regime of carrying out a chemical attack in a Damascus suburb on August 21, killing hundreds of people.

Speaking on the CBS Sunday morning show "Face the Nation", Rose summarised the answers Assad gave in his first interview with an American television network in the last two years.

Rose said that the Syrian president did not confirm or deny that the regime has chemical weapons.

The interview will be aired on Monday on television shows hosted by Rose.

The US and France are seeking to build an international coalition to launch military strikes against Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack.

Member countries of the European Union also blame the Syrian government for the attack, but said on Saturday that there should not be any military response before a report from UN weapons inspectors is published.

In another media report on Sunday, Germany's Bild am Sonntag paper said Syrian government forces may have used chemical weapons without the personal permission of Assad.

Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the paper said.

Bild said the radio traffic was intercepted by a German naval reconnaissance vessel, the Oker, sailing close to the Syrian coast.

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