Assad denies responsibility for chemical attack in CBS interview

In exclusive interview airing Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he had nothing to do with attack

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied in an interview with CBS television that he was behind a chemical attack last month and called on lawmakers to reject planned U.S. military strikes, the U.S. network said Sunday.

 

"He denied that he had anything to do with the attack," CBS veteran correspondent Charlie Rose said, speaking after earlier interviewing Assad in Syria.

 

"He denied that he knew there was a chemical attack, notwithstanding what has been said and notwithstanding the videotape. He said there's not enough evidence to make a conclusive judgment.

 

"The most important thing, as he says, is that 'there's no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people,'" Rose said.

 

Assad's rare interview with an American network is to be aired on CBS on Monday.

 

Responding to a reporter's question about Assad's interview at a separate meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the Syrian president's claims, saying that "the evidence speaks for itself."

 

The long-time Syrian leader also "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," Rose said.

 

"The results had not been good and they should not get involved and that they should communicate to their Congress and to their leadership in Washington not to authorize a strike."

 

Congress is due to begin full debate this week on whether to approve Obama's plans for limited military strikes on Syria aimed at degrading its chemical weapons ability when it returns from its summer break on Monday.

 

But there is a deep skepticism among a war-weary American public over a new American military engagement in the Middle East.

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