- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a published interview with a France newspaper that the Middle East was ready to blow but that President Obama was too weak to do anything about it.

He also accused the United States and France of rumormongering and demanded proof of his supposed unleashing of chemical weapons on rebel forces and civilians outside Damascus.

“Anyone accusing must give proof,” Mr. Assad said to the Le Figaro newspaper, which published portions of the interview online on Tuesday. “We have challenged the United States and France to come forward with a single proof.”


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He also taunted Mr. Obama, calling him weak.

“For us, a strong man prevents rather than starts a war,” Mr. Assad said, as NBC reported. “If Obama was strong, he would have said publicly: ‘We have no evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian state.’ He would have said publicly: ‘The only way to proceed is through U.N. investigations. We therefore refer everything to the Security Council.’ But Obama is weak because he is facing pressure from within the United States.”

The presidential taunts came just a couple days after Mr. Assad’s own son, age 11, reportedly posted similar remarks on his family Facebook page, calling the U.S. military “cowards with new technology” and daring an attack.

The White House is mulling what action to take in Syria on the heels of an intelligence report that claimed with “high confidence” the Syrian military used chemical weapons on its own citizens, killing more than 1,000, NBC reported.

Mr. Assad, in the French newspaper, said if the U.S. military did strike, it would send the Middle East into a chaotic spiral.

“The Middle East is a powder keg,” he said, “and the fire is approaching today.”