Syrian President Assad Makes His Defense to Charlie Rose

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 9 2013 9:55 AM

Bashar al-Assad Makes His Defense to Charlie Rose

Bashar al-Assad on Sunday sat down for an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose in the presidential palace in Damascus, the first time the Syrian president has spoken with an American anchor in nearly two years (and, obviously, the first time since President Obama asked Congress to sign off on military strikes against the Assad regime).

We'll have to wait until tonight to see the full interview, although the early excerpts that aired on CBS News this morning suggest that Assad's in-person defense will mirror the one his regime has already put forward in state-run media and elsewhere. Namely, that his regime's forces weren't behind the apparent chemical attack—which Assad doesn't even acknowledge happened—and that the United States doesn't have a "single shred" of evidence to support the claims that they were.

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"How can you talk about what happened if you don't have evidence?" Assad said. "We're not like the American administration. We're not social media administration or government. We are the government that deals with reality."

If the United States does launch strikes against his regime, Assad warned that the White House and its allies should "expect every action" in retaliation. "You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now," Assad said in what was a rather clear reference to his allies in Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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