Earlier today, Charlie Rose who traveled to Damascus previously, interviewed Syria's president al-Assad at the presidential palace. The interview will air in its entirety on PBS's "Charlie Rose" show on Monday night just as Obama's full media campaign to push for a Syrian war is peaking. In the interview, previewed by Rose on CBS's "Face The Nation" on Sunday morning, Assad denied that he had anything to do with the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21, 2013 and that there was no evidence that he had "used chemical weapons against my own people". Rose also said the Syrian president would not confirm or deny that the regime has chemical weapons. When asked if Assad though there would be an attack, the president told him "I don't know."
Below is the Rose's "Face the Nation" preview as transcribed by Politico:
[Assad] denied that he had anything to do with the attack. He denied that he knew there was a chemical attack, notwithstanding what has been said and notwithstanding the videotape. He said there’s not enough evidence to make a conclusive judgment. He would not say even, even though I read him the lead paragraph of the New York Times today in the story about their chemical weapons supply. And he said I cannot confirm or deny that we do have them. He did however say that if in fact we do have them and I am not going to say yes or no, they are in centralized control and no one else has access to them.
He suggested as he has before that perhaps the rebels had something to do with it, he made some reference to Aleppo. The most important thing he said there has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people and that there is no evidence of that. And if in fact the administration had evidence of that they should show that evidence and make their case. I then obviously repeated the fact that Secretary Kerry is in the process of making the case and that in fact that information is being shown to members of congress as they begin to come back to Washington and consider an authorization for the President to make a military strike.
He said that he did not necessarily know whether there was going to be a military strike. He said that they were obviously as prepared as they could be for a strike. He said there would be, suggested that there would be, among people that are aligned with him some kind of retaliation if a strike was made that that would be, what would be, that he would not even talk about the nature of the response. He had a message to the American people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the Middle East in wars and conflicts in the Middle East, that the results had not been good and they should not get involved and that they should communicate to their congress and to their leadership in Washington not to authorize a strike. [...]
Bob, that was the very first question I asked: Do you expect an attack? He said, I don’t know. He said we prepared as best we can. He did not say that he assumed there was going to be an attack in Syria because of the chemical weapons. I also pursued the question of whether there was anything that he was prepared to do anything to stop the attack, for example to give up chemical weapons, if that would stop the attack. I also raised the question with him did he fear that if there was an attack, it would degrade his own military, and therefore make it more likely that it might tip the balance. He’s very, very concerned about that as an issue.
He talked about his father, and the lessons that he learned from his father, that war was ruthless, and that after Homma, his father went all out to destroy, at the time, the Muslim brotherhood. So he was calm, he knew the situation he was in, in fact, Damascus seemed relatively calm, the places that I was today but there is a clear sense that they are closely watching what is happening in Washington. I think the reason they did this interview today, we’ve been trying for a long time, but we did it today because they’re watching what happens in Washington.