Assad: US strike could spark regional war

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned Monday that a U.S. military strike on his country could spark a regional war. 

Assad also challenged the U.S. and France to provide evidence of his regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens.

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In comments made to French newspaper Le Figaro, excerpts of which were published online Monday and reported by the Associated Press, Assad warned of potentially dire consequences to action by the U.S.

He said that the Middle East is a "powder keg" and that no one knows what might happen if the West launches a military attack on Syria.

He cautioned that "the whole world will lose control of the situation. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists."

Earlier Monday, the Syrian government urged the United Nations to prevent the U.S. from attacking the nation.

In Le Figaro, Assad also asserted that French and U.S. leaders should provide evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. He charged that they "have been incapable of doing that, including before their own peoples."

The U.S. argues it has solid intelligence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime. France has also offered evidence of a chemical attack, while NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that he has been "presented with concrete information and…personally I am convinced" that the regime used chemical weapons. 

President Obama has asked Congress to provide authorizaton for a strike against Syria because of the chemical attack. 

His top aides are trying to convince Congress to back Obama. 

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were among the officials on Monday briefing House Democrats on unclassified information supporting the administration's assertion that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

Kerry and Hagel will appear before House and Senate committees beginning Tuesday.

Kerry said Sunday that samples collected by first responders after the Aug. 21 attack tested positive for the toxic nerve gas Sarin.