Syrian President Bashar Assad called U.S. President Barack Obama “weak” in a new interview with a French publication on Monday, saying he is facing pressure from within the country.
“If Obama was strong, he would have said publicly: ‘We have no evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian state’. He would have said publicly: ‘The only way to proceed is through U.N. investigations. We therefore refer everything to the Security Council.’ But Obama is weak because he is facing pressure from within the United States,” Assad said, according to a translation of his interview with Le Figaro in The Telegraph.
In excerpts of the interview released early Monday, Assad called on the United States to offer proof of chemical weapons use by his government, saying they had failed to do so thus far.
“Whoever accuses must offer proof. We have challenged the United States and France to offer a single proof. Mr. Obama and Mr. Hollande have been unable, including before their peoples,”Assad said in the exclusive interview with Le Figaro, according to a translation by POLITICO.
Assad would not say whether his army has chemical weapons, but he did question the idea of Syria using such weapons in a place its own soldiers could be affected.
“Suppose that our army wished to use weapons of mass destruction: Is it possible to use them in a zone where it is itself, and where soldiers were injured by them, as found by United Nations weapons inspectors in their visit to the hospital where they were treated? Where is the logic?” Assad said.
The Syrian leader called the Middle East a powder keg and said there remains a risk of a regional war if it erupts. He also said, when asked if France is an enemy of Syria, that anyone who supports “terrorists” and works against the interests of Syria is an enemy, and there would be negative repercussions against those states.