Assad to Charlie Rose: 'No Evidence' I Gassed My People

Syrian strongman hints he'll retaliate if US strikes
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2013 10:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Bashar al-Assad "denied that he had anything to do" with the chemical attack that killed nearly 1,500 of his countrymen, he tells Charlie Rose in an interview that airs tomorrow on PBS. "He basically said, 'There has been no evidence that I used weapons against my people,"' said Rose. The journalist, who spoke with CBS' Face the Nation from Beirut this morning in a preview, said that Assad wouldn't say whether he had access to weapons of mass destruction, but that he does feel remorse for those who lost their lives. "He said, 'Of course I do,' but it did not come in a way that was sort of deeply felt inside. It was much more of a calm recitation of anybody who's a leader of a country would feel terrible about what's happened to its citizens."

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Assad warned the US against getting involved militarily, said Rose. He "suggested that there would be some kind of retaliation if a strike was made," though he "would not even talk about the nature of the response." Further, "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 in wars and conflicts... that the results had not been good." It's not the first time Assad has sat down with an American journalist: In 2011, he told Barbara Walters that he hadn't ordered the crackdown on his people. (Read more Charlie Rose stories.)

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