Developments around the world
President Bashar Assad warned that foreign military intervention in his nation’s internal conflict could set off a “powder keg” and spark a “regional war,” according to interview excerpts published Monday. “Chaos and extremism would ensue. There is a risk of regional war,” Assad said in the interview with the French daily Le Figaro.
The Russian news agency Interfax said President Vladimir Putin hopes to send a delegation of lawmakers to the U.S. to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said evidence the U.S. showed Moscow to blame the Syrian regime for the alleged chemical weapons attack was “absolutely unconvincing.” He said “there was nothing specific” in the evidence.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief adviser brushed aside fears that a U.S. strike against Syria could provoke Damascus to attack Turkey. Yalcin Akdogan told the Turkish daily newspaper Aksam that an attack on Turkey “would be madness and suicide” because Turkey is a member of NATO. The alliance is committed to defending member states.
A French intelligence report estimated that the Syrian regime launched the alleged Aug. 21 attack involving a “massive use of chemical agents” and could carry out similar strikes in the future. The government, on its website, published a nine-page intelligence synopsis about Syria’s chemical weapons program that found that at least 281 deaths could be attributed to the attack in rebel-held areas outside Damascus.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his country urged the U.S. not to take unilateral action against Syria. He said Washington briefed Beijing about the matter and that China is concerned about chemical weapons use but that the country opposes the U.S. acting alone. Hong didn’t address the possibility of the U.S. acting together with France’s government, which supports a strike.