- (Photo: CBS News video)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned America to "expect everything" in terms of retaliation if it launches a military strike against his government, and suggested that rebels with chemical weapon capabilities might turn on the U.S. as well.
"You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government," Assad said in an interview on Sunday with "CBS This Morning."
"You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now," he added, and noted that Syria is "not the only player in the region."
U.S. President Barack Obama is set to address the American people in a major speech on Tuesday where he will outline the need to attack the Syrian regime in response to what he says is undeniable evidence that it used chemical gas on civilians in August, killing over 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. The Obama administration is seeking Congressional approval, however, before it launches any kind of military strike on Assad.
The Syrian president, who has repeatedly denied being behind the chemical attacks and has blamed them on the rebels, refused to answer in detail what kind of retaliation America should expect in the scenario that Syria is attacked, repeating several time that "everything" is possible.
On the possibility of a chemical weapons attack, he said: "If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it. It could happen, I don't know. I am not a fortune teller."
The full interview is expected to air Monday night on "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS. In a follow-up segment, Rose, speaking from Dubai, noted that Assad was "remarkably calm and conversational" in his first interview on U.S. television in over two years.
Rose noted that Assad seems to believe that he will stay in power despite U.S. threats, with the Syrian president claiming that he has the support of the people, which according to him is one of the main reasons the government has not fallen despite a two-year long civil war that has claimed over 100,000 lives.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Russia remain without a common understanding on the situation in Syria, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin having a one-on-one meeting with Obama during the G-20 Summit last week. Russia has said that it is not convinced by U.S. evidence that the Assad regime is behind the chemical weapon attacks, and said that without U.N. approval, military strikes in Syria would count as "aggression."
Obama has received backing for his plan on a limited strike by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but as many as 300 lawmakers have already decided they will not side with a resolution that would authorize military intervention, Fox News suggested.
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice has also said that Obama's plan on Syria does not look wise, as it is not clear whether a military strike would actually serve to help al Qaeda rebels instead.
"The President's plan will align America with al Qaeda twelve years after it declared war on America on 9/11. It is as nonsensical as it is wrongheaded," Sekulow warned.