In interview with Charlie Rose, Assad says he had nothing to do with attack

Dylan Stableford
Yahoo News

In an interview with Charlie Rose in Damascus Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Assad denied he had anything to do with last month's chemical weapons attack that killed thousands of Syrians, but would not confirm or deny his regime has chemical weapons, Rose said on CBS' "Face The Nation."

The interview, Assad's first with an American television network in nearly two years, is scheduled to air on "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS Monday — the same day President Barack Obama is scheduled to sit down with six different television networks, including PBS, to make his case to for a U.S. strike against Syria.

According to CBS News president David Rhodes, Rose interviewed Assad in Damascus and then traveled to Beirut where he spoke with CBS' Bob Schieffer by phone.

According to Rose, Assad again suggested Syrian rebels may have had something to do with the Aug. 21 attack on the Syrian people.

He denied he knew there was a chemical attack, Rose said, and added that there is not enough evidence to make a conclusion judgment.

Assad, he said, told him there is "no evidence I used chemical weapons against my own people."

In a statement to Yahoo News, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan scoffed at Assad's comments.

"It doesn’t surprise us that someone who would kill thousands of his own people, including hundreds of children with poison gas, would also lie about it," Meehan said.

Earlier Sunday, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough warned that if Congress refuses to back the president's plan, it would send a bad signal to the rest of the Middle East.

"Everybody agrees that on August 21st, Assad used chemical weapons against his own people," McDonough said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

"So the question facing Congress this week is a very simple one — should there be consequences for his having used gases, chemical weapons, to kill more than 1,000 of his own people, including more than 400 children?" he continued. "The answer to that question will be followed closely in Tehran, the answer to that question will be followed closely in Damascus, the answer to that question will be followed very closely by members of Lebanese Hezbollah. So this is a big, big question and a big week for Congress to address that, uh, very fundamental national security issue."

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