Western military intervention doomed, Assad vows

Syrian president says chemical weapons claims ‘an insult to common sense,’ charges Israel is allied with rebels by providing medical aid

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Syrian President Bashar Assad during an interview broadcast on al-Manar television on Thursday, May 30, 2013. (photo credit: AP/al-Manar television)
Syrian President Bashar Assad during an interview broadcast on al-Manar television on Thursday, May 30, 2013. (photo credit: AP/al-Manar television)

Western military intervention into Syria would only end in failure, Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Monday in an extensive interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, in which he dismissed allegations of chemical weapons use by his government.

If America decided to intervene the Syrian civil war, it would meet “what it has been confronted with in every war since Vietnam… failure,” Assad said, according to a translation provided by the Syria state news agency.

“It will also not be able to convince the American people of the benefits of this war, nor will it be able to convince the people in this region of their policies and plans,” he added.

Since last week’s allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government outside Damascus, the Obama administration has been weighing possible military action against the Assad regime. France and the United Kingdom have also pushed for military action.

Speaking for the first time since videos surfaced showing the reported chemical weapons attack, the Syrian president dismissed the charges against his government as “completely politicized” accusations that are “an insult to common sense.”

He said the area purportedly targeted in the attack near Damascus was controlled by government forces. “How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?” he asked.

Syria, he said, has requested cooperation in the past from the UN over what he said were chemical weapons use by the rebels, and is willing to cooperate over the most recent allegations, but such investigations must be done with full communication with the Syrian government and be based on “concrete evidence and facts,” not on “allegations and hearsay.”

“We are all aware that instead of being interpreted in an objective manner, these results could easily be interpreted according to the requirements and agendas of certain major countries,” he said of UN chemical weapons inspections, adding that Syria “certainly” expects Russia to block in the UN any results that aim “to serve American and Western policies.”

Assad charged that the US, France and Britain have sought to intervene in Syria “from the outset,” but Syrian allies Russia and China, and the reluctance of their own populations to engage in another military foray, have thwarted their attempts.

The Syrian president also charged that Israel is allied with the Syrian opposition and has “publicly declared its cooperation with these terrorists and treated them in Israeli hospitals.”

According to a recent CNN report, at least 120 Syrians injured near the border have received treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Assad said the rebels were aligned with Israel and linked the Syrian opposition to global terrorist networks “initially created in the early 80s by the United States and the West, with Saudi funding, to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.”

Throughout the interview, Assad referred to the Syrian opposition as “terrorists” and decried their foreign sources of funding, namely, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. At the same time he lauded the successes of his army against the rebels, which he said mostly consisted of outlaws, Islamist radicals, and included tens of thousands of foreign fighters.

Over 100,000 Syrians have died since the Syrian civil war erupted over two-and-a-half years ago. Nearly 2 million refugees have fled the country since the violence began, half of which left in the first five months of 2013 alone, according to UN statistics.

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