Cloudy
47°
Cloudy
Hi 48° | Lo 45°

Assad: Risk of regional war if West strikes Syria

  • Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke leaps the air from government forces shelling in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/United media office of Arbeen)

    In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke leaps the air from government forces shelling in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/United media office of Arbeen)

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

    In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

    In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

  • A protesters holds up a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad near placards reading "U.S. killer, get out the middle east" during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    A protesters holds up a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad near placards reading "U.S. killer, get out the middle east" during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • A Syrian refugee uses a mobile phone as she walks with a child after crossing the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke leaps the air from government forces shelling in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/United media office of Arbeen)
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter moments before firing a heavy mortar toward the airport in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)
  • A protesters holds up a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad near placards reading "U.S. killer, get out the middle east" during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

France released an intelligence report yesterday alleging chemical weapons use by Syria’s regime that dovetailed with similar U.S. claims, as Syrian 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 Obama said he would seek authorization from Congress before launching any military action against Assad’s regime.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Assad was quoted as saying that Syria has challenged the U.S. and France to provide proof to support their allegations, but that their leaders “have been incapable of doing that, including before their own peoples.”

“If the Americans, the French or the British had a shred of proof, they would have shown it beginning on the first day,” he said, deriding Obama as “weak” and having buckled to U.S. domestic political pressure.

“We believe that a strong man is one who prevents war, not one who inflames it,” Assad said.

French President Francois Hollande and Obama have been the two world leaders most vocally calling for action against Assad’s regime, accusing it of carrying out a deadly chemical attack against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21.

The U.S. said it has proof that the Assad regime is behind attacks that Washington claims killed at least 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

It has marked an intolerable escalation in a two-year civil war in Syria that has left some 100,000 people dead.

The Syrian government denies the allegations and blames opposition fighters. In the Figaro interview, Assad questioned whether an attack took place at all and refused to say whether his forces have chemical weapons, as is widely believed.

If the U.S. and France strike, “Everyone will lose control of the situation. . . . Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists,” he added.

To back up its case, the French government published a nine-page intelligence synopsis yesterday that concluded Assad’s regime had launched an attack on Aug. 21 involving a “massive use of chemical agents,” and could carry out similar strikes in the future.

In all, though, the French report provided little new concrete evidence beyond what U.S. officials provided over the weekend in Washington. Along with it, the French Defense Ministry posted on its website six clips of amateur video showing victims, some of which has already been widely available online and in the international media.

In the Figaro interview, Assad said “all the accusations are based on allegations of the terrorists and on arbitrary videos posted on the internet.”

The French report made no specific reference to the agencies involved or how the intelligence was collected about the attack, aside from referring to videos of the injured or killed, doctors’ accounts and “independent evaluations” such as one from Paris-based humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders three days after the attack.

A French government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the matter because of its sensitivity, said the analysis was written by the spy agency DGSE and the military intelligence unit, DRM, and was based on satellite imagery, video images and on-the-ground sources – plus samples collected from the alleged chemical attacks in April.

The assessment said it was “very unlikely” that Syria’s opposition had falsified images of suffering children that turned up online. It also said intelligence indicated the opposition “does not have the means to conduct such a large attack with chemical agents.”

Around the time of the attack, Assad’s regime feared a possible opposition strike on Damascus: “Our evaluation is that the regime was looking to loosen the vice and secure the strategic sites for the control of the capital,” the report said.

The synopsis also said French intelligence services had collected urine, blood, soil and munitions samples from two attacks in April – in Saraqeb and Jobar – that confirmed the use of sarin gas.

France is “determined to take action against the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar Assad, and to dissuade it from doing so again,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said after hosting lawmakers to discuss the intelligence on Syria.

“This act cannot go without a response.”

France won’t act alone and Hollande was “continuing his work of persuasion to bring together a coalition,” Ayrault said. French parliament will debate the Syria issue tomorrow, but no vote is scheduled. The French constitution doesn’t require such a vote for Hollande, though he could decide to call for one.

Legacy Comments1

Obama a leader without an ounce of guiding principles - by his inaction - he again voted........... present

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.