By Lara Seligman - 08/26/13 11:30 AM EDT
Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in an interview with a Russian newspaper that a U.S. military intervention in the country's deepening civil war would fail and denied reports that his forces used chemical weapons against his own people.
Assad said reports that he had used chemical weapons last week in an attack on the outskirts of Damascus were “nonsense” because government forces had been close to the area where troops were said to have fired poison gas projectiles.
“Would any state use chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction in a place where its own forces are concentrated? That would go against elementary logic,” Assad said. “So, accusations of this kind are entirely political, and the reason for them is the government forces' series of victories over the terrorists.”
Assad suggested that the “unsubstantiated” reports were part of an effort by the United States, Britain and France to justify a military intervention in the country's two-year civil war.
President Obama has declared that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “red line” that would require a response from the United States.
United Nations inspectors were examining sites of the chemical attack on Monday.
Assad's decision to give an interview to a Russian newspaper indicates Moscow's support for the Syrian leader after the latest attack near Damascus last week.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, meanwhile, warned in an interview with The Associated Press that international strikes against Syria would trigger “chaos” worldwide.
In the event of an international attack, Mikdad vowed that his country would not go down without a fight.
Mikdad added that the international community should not jump to conclusions over allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons last week near Damascus.
The U.N. team currently investigating the accusations should be allowed to do its work before the world makes any judgment, Mikdad said.
— Updated at 9:33 a.m.