Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo by the Associated Press)
Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied in an interview that his country had used chemical weapons against his own people and warned of "repercussions" for any U.S. strike against his country.
Assad warned that the United States "could expect anything" in retaliation.
"There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," he told CBS' Charlie Rose in an exclusive interview. PBS will broadcast the full interview Monday evening.
The Obama administration has accused the Assad regime of an attack with chemical weapons near Damascus Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 people. President Obama has called on Congress to back a limited strike against Syria.
"We-- we're not in the area where... the alleged chemical attack was happened, as is alleged. We're not sure that anything happened," Assad said.
He charged that the Obama administration had only made charges and had not produced any proof of Syrian complicity in the use of chemical weapons.
"Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically, our soldiers," the Syrian president told CBS. "They went to the hospital, as casualties because of chemical weapons. But in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons, we only had video and we only have pictures and allegations. We're not there. Our forces -- our police, our institutions don't exist. How can you talk about what happened if you don't have evidences? We're not like the American administration. We're not social media administration or government. We are the government that deals with reality."
He called on Obama to "present what you have as evidence to the public, be transparent."
He accused the White House of spreading false information about the attack and recalled the presentation by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations on Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.
We have the "precedent" of Powell's evidence 10 years ago, Assad said. It was false and forged, he charged.
The Syrian leader would neither confirm nor deny that his government kept chemical weapons, but said that if they existed, they were "in centralized control".
In Paris, meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry brushed aside Assad's denials.
"We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack. We know they deployed forces," Kerry said at a news conference Monday in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague..
"What does he offer?" Kerry asked of Assad. "Words that are contradicted by fact."
Kerry said that control of Syria's chemical weapons was restricted to the president, his brother and an unnamed general.