NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- President Bashar Assad of Syria denied in an interview with Charlie Rose of CBS News (CBS) and PBS that he had anything to do with a chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus last month.
Rose, who is host of CBS This Morning and The Charlie Rose Show, said of Assad Sunday on the CBS News program Face the Nation: "He denied that he had anything to do with the attack. He denied that he knew, in fact, that there was a chemical attack, notwithstanding what has been said and notwithstanding the video tapes. He said there's not evidence yet to make a conclusive judgment."
President Barack Obama has said there is compelling evidence that Assad's regime attacked civilians with chemical weapons and has asked Congress to authorize a limited military strike against targets in Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been making the administration's case for the need to intervene in Syria, said Sunday in Paris that Saudi Arabia has agreed to support military intervention in Syria.Describing his interview with Assad, Rose said the Syrian president would not confirm or deny whether he has access to chemical weapons. "Even though I read him the lead paragraph of the New York Times today in a story about their chemical weapons supply, he said I can't confirm or deny that we have chemical weapons," Rose said. "He did however say that if in fact we do have them, and I'm not going to say yes or no, they're in centralized control so no one else has access to them." Rose said that Assad told him that he was not sure there would be an attack against Syria but that if was, he was prepared. "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 in the Middle East, that 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," Rose said. Assad "suggested that there would be, among people that are aligned with him, some kind of retaliation if a strike was made," Rose said. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, who also appeared on Face the Nation responded to Rose's report, calling Assad "a liar" and emphasizing the administration's belief that the Syrian president did use chemical weapons. "He clearly is misleading, he does appear to me to be a liar," McDonough said. Excerpts of the interview will be broadcast Monday on CBS This Morning and the entire interview will be broadcast Monday night on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS.
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