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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

World

Assad denies using chemical weapons
HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Washington , September 09, 2013
First Published: 10:01 IST(9/9/2013)
Last Updated: 10:08 IST(9/9/2013)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on Sunday denied he had anything to do with the chemical weapons attack of August 21. He has even denied any knowledge of it.

In his first interview to a US media organisation, PBS, in nearly two years, Assad also refused to confirm or deny if Syria has chemical weapons, according to interviewer Charlie Rose.

The interview will be broadcast Monday night, around the time six networks and cable news organisations air their interviews with President Barack Obama.

The Obama administration has charged the Syrian government with killing over 1,400 people using chemical weapons -- sarin gas -- on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21.

The US has said it has enough evidence to prove chemical weapons were used, but it has not given proof directly linking them to Assad.

It has argued no one else had the weapons or the capability.

"The common-sense test says he is responsible for this. He should be held to account," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in one of many interviews he did on Sunday.

In an earlier interview with Russia media outlet Izvestia, Assad called allegations of chemical weapons use "completely politicised" and argued Syrian military had an edge in the war.

In the PBS interview, Assad suggested, or so it seemed to Rose, the rebels may have had something to do with the use of chemical weapons on the outskirts of Damascus.

Assad also appealed to Americans to tell their representatives to not grant congressional authorization to the punitive strike requested by the Obama administration.

The Syrian government has tried to lobby directly with its representatives seeking meetings with House speaker John Boehner and Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

They were turned down by both.

When asked if he was prepared for the strikes US was planning, Assad is reported to have said "we prepared as best as we can". Though he was not sure if the attack would happen.


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