France: 'Massive Use of Chemical Agents' in Syria Assad: Mideast is a 'powder keg' that would blow in event of Western strike By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Sep 2, 2013 1:31 PM CDT 67 comments Comments French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech in Paris, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool) (Newser) – As promised, France has unveiled its Syria intel estimate today, and it's squarely blaming the Assad regime with the "massive use of chemical agents" in the Aug. 21 attacks that claimed hundreds of lives. The nine-page report says that Bashar al-Assad could carry out similar attacks in the future, reports the AP, and says at least 281 deaths can be attributed to the attack. Meanwhile, in a Le Figaro interview picked up by the Telegraph, Assad says Francois Hollande had better be ready to put his money where his mouth is: "Whoever makes accusations should provide proof. We have challenged the United States and France to provide the slightest proof. (Presidents Barack) Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing so, even to their own people." Any French involvement in a strike on Syria, Assad warned, would make it an "enemy of Syria," for which "French interests" would suffer consequences. He also warned the West at large against a hit: “Nobody knows what will happen (after a Western strike). Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg (that is the Mideast) explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists."