News / Middle East

Assad Thinks US Strikes Still Possible

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview in Damascus, Sept. 19, 2013.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview in Damascus, Sept. 19, 2013.
VOA News
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not ruling out the possibility of a United States military strike on his country despite agreeing to a deal requiring him to give up his chemical weapons.

Speaking to Venezuela's Telesur television, President Assad said his government remains committed to the deal negotiated by the U.S. and Russia, which is in the final stages of being formalized by the United Nations Security Council.

Assad said he sees "no serious obstacles" to the plan, but warned that terrorists, a phrase he uses to describe rebels, could try to prevent U.N. experts tasked with securing the government's chemical weapons stockpile from doing their job.

The deal emerged after the U.S. threatened airstrikes to punish his government for a poison gas attack last month on a rebel-held area that killed hundreds. Assad denies carrying out the attack.

The U.S. delayed the airstrikes after Assad agreed to the deal, but the Syrian leader told Telesur that the possibility of what he called U.S. "aggression" was always there, whether the "pretext" was chemical weapons or "something else."

His comments, which aired late on Wednesday, came as U.N. chemical weapons inspectors returned to Syria to investigate multiple incidents where chemical weapons were allegedly used.

The team of experts, led by Swedish chief Ake Sellstrom, has already determined that the deadly nerve agent sarin was used in the August 21 attack near Damascus. The investigators' mandate does not include assigning blame for any of the attacks.

Meanwhile, in New York, diplomats are continuing to work on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would enforce the U.S.-Russian chemical weapons deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, but failed to agree on the key points of the document. The U.S. and Russian ambassadors to the U.N. are tasked with working out the final language.

Russia opposes a resolution that mentions Chapter VII of the U.N. charter, which includes the use of military and non-military action to enforce decisions.

Russia has long opposed the idea of military intervention, and has vetoed three attempts to sanction Syria at the U.N. Security Council.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday the resolution could mention the Chapter VII article that permits force or sanctions only if the U.S.-Russia chemical weapons accord is violated by either side in the Syrian conflict.

Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Syria 

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter watches after setting tires and other objects on fire to provide cover from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's Salaheddine district, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire a homemade rocket in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • This image taken from video from the Sham News Network shows Syrian opposition fighters firing at government forces near Daraa, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Smoke rises from buildings after an airstrike hit in Habit village, Hama, Syria, Sep. 25, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters visit the grave of their comrade who was killed in a recent attack, in a cemetery in Duma neighborhood in Damascus, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Civilians walk as smoke rises behind a mosque after what activists say was shelling from the Syrian regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Boys walk on the rubble of damaged buildings in Duma neighborhood of Damascus, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Aisha Masri helps a wounded man at Karaj al-Hajez crossing, a passage way separating Aleppo's rebel-controlled and regime-controlled neighborhoods, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • A Syrian man with more than half his body burnt from an air strike leaves a field hospital to go back home at a village turned into a battlefield with government forces in Idlib province, Sept. 22, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army members prepare food for their fellow fighters in a kitchen located near the frontline in the al-Khalidiya neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 22, 2013.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid