Skip to main content

Assad warns of retaliation if US strikes Syria

Assad warns of retaliation if US strikes Syria

/

Embattled Syrian president denies White House allegations of chemical warfare in rare televised interview

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

assad cbs
assad cbs

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this week issued a stern warning to President Barack Obama, telling CBS News that the US should expect retaliation if the White House moves forward with plans to launch a military strike against Damascus. In an interview with CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose, Assad denied that his regime used chemical weapons in an August 21st attack outside Damascus, as the White House has alleged. The embattled president added that military intervention could have serious repercussions for the US, though he declined to say whether retaliation would come directly from Syria or its various allies.

"You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government," Assad said in the interview, his first with an American television network in nearly two years.

"The government is not the only player in this region," he continued, alluding to his regime's allies in Iran and the militant group Hezbollah. "You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies." Assad later suggested that US intervention could trigger terrorist attacks from al-Qaeda or other groups, drawing a parallel to the September 11th attacks nearly 12 years ago.

"Nobody expected the 11th of September," he said. "So... it's difficult for anyone to tell you what is going to happen. It's an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything."

The interview will be broadcast in full on Rose's eponymous PBS show at 9 PM ET Monday night, one day before Obama is scheduled to make his case for intervention in a nationally televised address. Obama urged the Senate to authorize a limited military strike in Syria last week, following a late August attack that killed an estimated 1,400 people — including hundreds of women and children — according to US intelligence. The US says sarin gas was used in the missile strike, though some remain reluctant to blame Assad outright. Findings from a United Nations investigation are expected to be released later this month, but the report will only identify which chemical agents were used in the attack, not the responsible party.

"not a single shred of evidence"

The White House insists that the Assad regime was behind the attack, pointing to classified intelligence and intercepted communications, but Assad continues to blame the opposition groups that have been trying to overthrow him for more than two years. He repeated these claims in Sunday's interview, telling Rose that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have "not a single shred of evidence" to support their allegations.

"How can you talk about what happened if you don't have evidences?" Assad said. "We're not like the American administration. We're not a social media administration or government. We are the government that deals with reality."

Syria is believed to hold a large stockpile of chemical weapons, though Rose says that Assad would neither confirm nor deny such reports during Sunday's interview. The US, France, and the UK say rebel groups would not have been able to carry out a chemical attack as large as the one that allegedly unfolded last month, while Russia has continued to stand by the Assad regime.

Earlier Monday, Kerry told reporters at a London press conference that the US would abandon plans to strike Syria if Assad hands over his entire stockpile of chemical weapons, though he acknowledged the improbability of that actually happening. Kerry repeated the administration's calls for a limited and "unbelievably small" military strike against Syria, saying that Obama still hopes to strike a political resolution to Syria's ongoing civil war. He declined to say whether Obama would consider launching an attack without support from Congress; the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution this week.

Speaking calmly and quietly, Assad hesitated when asked if retaliation against the US could involve the same chemical weapons he's accused of stockpiling, saying it would depend on whether "the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it."

"It could happen, I don't know," he added. "I am not fortune teller."

Update 1: Deputy U.S. National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has responded to Assad's comments, telling Yahoo News that the White House is prepared for possible repercussions, while downplaying the urgency of the Syrian president's threats. "We're prepared for every contingency," Rhodes said. "It's not in his interest to escalate. That would only invite greater risk for him."

Update 2: CBS News has released video of Rose's full interview with Assad, along with the full transcript.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.