WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) – Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has denied any involvement with a chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people.
As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Sunday night, the dictator sat down for an exclusive interview with “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose as Congress mulls whether to authorize the use of force in Syria.
Rose discussed his conversation with Assad on Sunday morning’s “Face The Nation.”
“He denied that he had anything to do with the attack, he denied that he knew, in fact, that there was a chemical attack notwithstanding what has been said and notwithstanding the videotape. He said there’s not evidence yet to make a conclusive judgment,” Rose told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. “He would not say even – even though I read him the lead paragraph of the New York Times today in a story about their chemical weapons supply – he said I can’t confirm or deny that we have chemical weapons.”
The Obama administration and other governments around the world have said they are confident chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people.
Rose, speaking by phone from Beirut, Lebanon, said Assad also suggested, as he has previously, that the rebels may have had something to do with any chemical weapons attacks.
“He basically says ‘there has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people,'” Rose said.
Rose also asked Assad about his feelings about a possible U.S. strike on Syrian military assets.
“He had a message to the American people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the Middle East and in wars and conflicts in the Middle East, that the results had not been good and that they should not get involved,” Rose told Schieffer.
Assad told Rose he is prepared in case of an American attack, but said he isn’t sure that there will be a use of force.
“I think the reason they did the interview today – because we’ve been trying for a long time but did it today – because they’re watching what happens in Washington,” Rose told Schieffer.
This week, President Barack Obama is making a final push to rally support for military action. He will address the nation from the White House Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Senate will hold the first key vote on whether to authorize or reject a military strike against Syria.
The full interview with Assad will air on Monday evening’s “Charlie Rose” show on PBS. Excerpts will air on “CBS This Morning” on CBS 2 Monday.
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