Syria warns Obama not to intervene in conflict
SYRIAN president Bashar al-Assad warned Washington in an interview published today in Russia that any US military intervention in Syria would fail, and denied that his forces had used chemical weapons.
"Failure awaits the United States, as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day," Assad told the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper in an interview in Damascus.
Assad said Syrian government forces had been close to the area, in the suburbs of Damascus, where rebel forces accused his troops of firing poison gas projectiles last week, and there was no clear front line there.
"Would any state use chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction in a place where its own forces are concentrated? That would go against elementary logic," Assad said.
"So, accusations of this kind are entirely political and the reason for them is the government forces' series of victories over the terrorists," he said, referring to rebels fighting in the two-year-old civil war.
Dismissing the chemical weapons accusations as "nonsense" and "unsubstantiated", he said the US, Britain and France had long sought to justify a military intervention in Syria.
Russia has been Assad's most important international ally during the conflict, supplying his troops with arms and resisting pressure at the United Nations for tighter sanctions on Damascus.
Washington has faced growing calls for action in response to Wednesday's gas attack. President Barack Obama previously declared that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a "red line" which would require a firm response.
UN inspectors left central Damascus today to examine sites of the chemical attack, a Reuters witness said.
It follows calls from Western powers for military action to punish what may be the world's worst poison gas strike in 25 years. Opposition activists estimate that more than 1,000 people died in the gassing.