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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid