PBS’s Charlie Rose recently interviewed Syrian president Bashar Assad, who denied that there is evidence showing his regime used chemical weapons against his own people in Syria. He refused to confirm or deny whether his government even has such weapons, though he said if it does, it has “centralized control” of them.
Rose, speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, said the Syrian dictator told him there would be “some kind of retaliation” if the U.S. strikes Syria, but wouldn’t offer any details of the threat. When asked whether he expects an attack, Assad told Rose, “I don’t know.” Rose also asked Assad how concerned he was that an attack would shift the balance of the conflict and “degrade his military,” and characterized the president as “very, very concerned about that as an issue.”
According to Politico, the interview is the first President Assad has given to a U.S. network in almost two years.
After watching Rose discuss the interview, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said, “The most important thing is what Charlie said at the end, [that] Assad is . . . closely watching what is happening in Washington.” He then extended that argument, saying that Iranian leaders and members of Hezbollah in Lebanon would be watching America’s decision as well.
McDonough said Assad’s denial of responsibility for the chemical attack “appear[s] to be a lie.”
Rose’s full interview with President Assad will appear on his PBS show Monday night.