Press Trust of India
Cairo, 3 September
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that any military attack against his embattled regime would lead to a regional war, as US President Barack Obama today won backing from two hawkish Senators for his bid to get a Congressional nod for a strike against Syria.
“Chaos and extremism will spread” if the USA and its Western allies decide to attack Syria, Mr Assad said, adding “everyone will lose control of the situation once the powder keg explodes”.
“The risk of a regional war exists,” he said in an interview with French newspaper ‘Le Figaro’.
France should consider the consequences of its involvement in military action against Syria, he said. “There will be repercussions, negative ones of course, on the interests of France,” Mr Assad said.
Mr Assad’s remarks came as Washington and Paris are pushing for a military attack against Syria over the country’s alleged use of poison gas against civilians, including an 21 August attack near Damascus the USA says killed over 1,400 people.
Syria has repeatedly denied being behind the 21 August attack and accuses rebel fighters of using chemical weapons on government troops.
Meanwhile in Washington, hawkish Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham after holding talks with Mr Obama said that they favoured passing a resolution to authorise for a military action against Syria.
“A vote against this would be catastrophic in its consequences, not only as far as this issue is concerned, but in the future,” Republican Senator McCain told reporters.
“We want to work to make that resolution something that the majority of the members of both houses can support,” said Mr McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate.
While Mr Graham said: “The first thing I suggested to the President is give the Opposition a chance to speak directly to the American people. John and I and the president all believe that the Syrians by nature are not Al Qaida sympathisers.They’re not trying to replace one dictator, Assad, who has been brutal, his whole family has been brutal for generations, to only have Al Qaida run Syria. That makes no sense.”
During the meeting, Mr Obama told the leading Republican senators that his administration plans for strikes against Syria may be coupled with increased support for rebel forces in that country’s civil war.
On Saturday, Mr Obama surprised the world when he announced to seek authorisation from lawmakers for military action in Syria.
Democrat Jim Moran commended Mr Obama for his response to the continuing atrocities in Syria and implored Congress to act swiftly to prevent more egregious events.
“President Obama was absolutely right in setting a red line against the use of weapons of mass destruction by Bashar al-Assad. The USA has the only true ability to prevent the use and proliferation of such weapons,” said Mr Moran.
Separately, Israel today carried out a missile test in the Mediterranean Sea. A single missile was fired, the country’s defence ministry said in a statement without giving other details.
The statement came after Russian state news agencies said the country’s radar systems had detected two “ballistic objects” fired from the central Mediterranean toward the eastern part of the sea.