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Assad warns of repercussions for a U.S. strike

By Nedra Pickler

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:49 a.m. HST, Sep 09, 2013


WASHINGTON » Opening a possible diplomatic solution to avoid a U.S. military strike, Syria's foreign minister today welcomed a suggestion floated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to move all the country's chemical weapons under international control.

The White House said it was taking a hard look at Syria's statement even as it redoubled efforts to sell the notion of the strike to a skeptical Congress and divided nation. It wasn't clear whether Kerry was making an off-the-cuff remark or a genuine offer that could avert the Obama administration's plans for an air raid, but it could offer President Barack Obama a way out of his uphill battle to get support for a strike.

A new Associated Press poll shows a majority of Americans oppose a U.S. strike on Syria, despite the Obama administration's push to respond to chemical weapons attacks the U.S. blames on President Bashar Assad's regime. The poll was released today and conducted September 6-8 by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.

Kerry said during a news conference in London that if Assad wanted to defuse the crisis, "he could turn every single bit of his chemical weapons over to the international community" within a week. But he said that Assad "isn't about to do it."

But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem quickly agreed, at the urging of Syrian ally Russia.

"Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said on a visit to Moscow, where he held talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov took Kerry's proposal to al-Moallem.

Al-Moallem, however, wouldn't give any further details in his brief statement and didn't take any questions. It was the first official acknowledgement by Damascus that it possesses chemical weapons.

The Obama administration tried to quickly tamp down the notion Kerry was making an orchestrated effort with the Russians to avoid strikes. "Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used," Kerry spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

But White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. "will have to take a hard look at the Russian proposal" for turning control of Syria's chemical weapons over to the international community. "We're skeptical of any statements by the Syrian government given that they haven't even declared their chemical weapons and used them in violation of international law," Rhodes said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria to immediately agree to transfer chemical weapons and chemical precursors to a safe place within the country for international destruction. Ban said he will also propose to the Security Council that it unite and demand an immediate chemical weapons transfer should U.N. inspectors conclude that such weapons were used in an attack Aug. 21 in a suburb of Damascus.

Assad granted an interview to American television journalist Charlie Rose to contradict the Obama administration's accusation that his government used sarin gas in that attack, killing 1,429 people. Obama planned to press the case in a round of six interviews for television newscasts scheduled to air tonight.

Assad accused the Obama administration of spreading "lies" and said they have not presented a "single shred of evidence" to the public that his government is behind chemical weapons use. He warned an attack could bring retaliation in the volatile region.

"It's area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything," Assad said in an interview broadcast on "CBS This Morning." Pressed on what those repercussions might include, Assad responded, "I'm not fortune teller."

"If you strike somewhere, you have to expect the repercussions somewhere else in different forms," Assad said.

The White House was unmoved by Assad's denial. "It doesn't surprise us that someone who would kill thousands of his own people, including hundreds of children with poison gas, would also lie about it," said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

Kerry said he would be confident going into any courtroom with the evidence gathered by the United States that Syria's government used chemical weapons against its people. "Words that are contradicted by fact," Kerry said during a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, speaking to a Washington think tank today, argued Syria's use of chemical weapons is a threat to U.S. national security. "Failing to respond brings us closer to the day when terrorists might gain and use chemical weapons against Americans at abroad and at home," she said.

The White House said today that 14 more nations have signed on to a statement blaming Assad's government for a chemical weapons attack and calling for a strong international response. That means the list has grown to 25 from the 11 — including the U.S. — who initially signed on. The statement was unveiled Friday at the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The statement doesn't explicitly call for military action against Syria, but administration officials say it's an implicit endorsement because the U.S. is publicly discussing a potential military strike.

Obama has a challenge to convince Congress to back a strike authorization, although leaders of both parties are supporting the measure. A survey by The Associated Press shows that House members who are staking out positions are either opposed to or leaning against the plan for a military strike by more than a 6-1 margin.

"It's an uphill slog," said Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who supports strikes on Assad. "I think it's very clear he's lost support in the last week," Rogers added, speaking of the president.

Almost half of the 433 current members in the House and a third of the 100-member Senate remain undecided, the AP survey found. They will be the subject of intense lobbying from the administration — as well as outside groups that have formed coalitions that defy the traditional left-right divide.

One of the two female Iraq war veterans in Congress said today she opposes the strikes, underscoring the administration's struggle in trying to rally Democrats to back the use of force. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii bemoaned the carnage in Syria after the chemical weapons attack, but said she has concluded that a U.S. military strike would be a serious mistake.

"As a soldier, I understand that before taking any military action, our nation must have a clear tactical objective, a realistic strategy, the necessary resources to execute that strategy, including the support of the American people, and an exit plan," Gabbard said in a statement. "The proposed military action against Syria fails to meet any of these criteria."

Sen. Lamar Alexander also announced today he would vote no against the resolution, which would authorize "limited and specified use" of U.S. armed forces against Syria for no more than 90 days and ban American ground troops from combat.

"I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict," Alexander said.

Public opinion surveys show intense American skepticism about military intervention in Syria, even among those who believe Syria's government used chemical weapons on its people.

A briefing this evening for lawmakers was being led by Kerry, Rice, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Marin Dempsey. And Obama himself plans to a rare visit to Capitol Hill to lobby Senate Democrats personally on Tuesday, before addressing the nation from the White House Tuesday evening.

Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Deb Riechmann in London and Julie Pace, Donna Cassata and Philip Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.







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false wrote:
Yup. We're going to get it. The "gas" will be coming our way, and then what? Bigger bombs? Are we really out to destroy the country and the planet? Sounds like the big boys have found their match. Glad to be old. This world gets more ridiculous every minute. There goes the budget.
on September 9,2013 | 04:48AM
Grimbold wrote:
This time it is all about Obama's bruised ego.
on September 9,2013 | 05:15AM
serious wrote:
True, it's his big mouth, talking without thinking that got us here. If he would limit his TV time!!!!! When Reagan was on TV, about twice a year, one paid attention, it was something important. But with Obama, it's like one of those bad commercials that you just mute!!!
on September 9,2013 | 05:47AM
2localgirl wrote:
Better answer, don't even watch'em, that's what I do. I turn the channel is I see his face. Works for me.
on September 9,2013 | 08:48AM
jess wrote:
That's the media's fault, not Obama's. Our society thrives on 24/7 news coverage.
on September 9,2013 | 12:53PM
Skyler wrote:
Yeah, if he'd gone to Congress in the first place, he wouldn't have gotten all sore back-peddling.
on September 9,2013 | 10:51AM
allie wrote:
yup
on September 9,2013 | 06:25AM
LanaAloha wrote:
This "all or nothing" approach from the Obama administration makes no sense. Like either we bomb the hell out of every administration that commits atrocities or we do nothing. Why not look at other alternatives. Not to mention if we ran our own nation with more of a moral compass and more military restraint we might actually have a leg to stand on here. The NSA spying certainly hasn't helped our moral standing in the world.
on September 9,2013 | 06:53AM
Skyler wrote:
You'd think so, huh? I think 'others' are pulling strings behind the scenes... perhaps they're behind on their mansion payments or something.
on September 9,2013 | 10:53AM
aomohoa wrote:
I agree it's Obama's ego.
on September 9,2013 | 12:39PM
PokeStop wrote:
Here goes the "Towel Head" Assad threatening the U.S. Obama should just drop the "NUKE" on this sucker and obliterate that whole region! "You wanna play with my toys I'll show you what I've got!"
on September 9,2013 | 07:31AM
2localgirl wrote:
Then it would need to be the WHOLE region, and that is huge! IF only Syria, then all the other Arabs would retaliate against the US. Both sides of the Syrian 'team' are loosers. WHY should we get involved with a 'team' whom neither side is right? Heard last week commented by a Marine, I didn't join the Marines to help Al Qaida ? so many now I can't remember who the players all are! Mind boggling! Let them wipe each other off the face of the earth. If they are meant to survive they will. Certainly Israel will survive, no matter, they have divine protection. We've lost ours, think 9/11....:C
on September 9,2013 | 08:52AM
aomohoa wrote:
You are either kidding or you are insane. Obama is acting like a spoiled dictator. It is not our job to rule the world!
on September 9,2013 | 09:24AM
Slow wrote:
Insane or the typically immature SA troller. Like me.
on September 9,2013 | 10:38AM
Slow wrote:
Excellent idea. They all hate us. 11 time world surf champion, Kelly Slater is, I understand, of Lebanese heritage. Talk about towel heads. Nuke Kelly Slater for world peace!
on September 9,2013 | 10:03AM
islandhula wrote:
Assad is not as bad as Al Qaeda, which is what we'll get if we go to war with Assad. No war, please!!
on September 9,2013 | 09:47AM
Kahu Matu wrote:
With all of the posturing and "subject" data being laid out by Obama's administration to place the blame on Assad's administration, this is easily going to grow into a much larger conflict, possibly World War, where countries pick a side and go to war based upon that affiliation. You would hope that Obama would be wiser than that, but then again look at all he has done so far. Wise decisions are not part of his track record, rather arrogance and speeches are.
on September 9,2013 | 05:11AM
false wrote:
Agree. Scary. The "toys" are much more devastating than imaginable and way more creative than the movies.
on September 9,2013 | 05:35AM
lee1957 wrote:
Don't know about a world war, but Obama's "Long War" will become a "Longer War."
on September 9,2013 | 11:29AM
Malani wrote:
Syrian President Bashar Assad is warning the U.S. of repercussions if it launches a military strike against him. "You should expect everything," Take heed that the words out of Assad's mouth he will hold it to be true. Now if Syria was to attack American I can see American attacking back so what makes Obama think that he has the right to go into another Nation to prevent them from attacking their own people? Not having the backing of Congress, other Nations, and the American public should speak volumns to Obama but he still wants it his way.
on September 9,2013 | 05:11AM
false wrote:
How do we back out of this one? Face, we have the "face" of a nation to maintain. We become more powerless in influence all the time because we don't have the resources to live at the pace we have engineered. We need their oil and whatever other ore they have.
on September 9,2013 | 05:38AM
allie wrote:
Why should USA enforce international norms. UN should do that.
on September 9,2013 | 06:25AM
aomohoa wrote:
Wow, I am agreeing with allie today. Now that is not the norm:)
on September 9,2013 | 09:27AM
Skyler wrote:
:) Now hug & make up. :-D
on September 9,2013 | 10:55AM
lee1957 wrote:
It's a brave new world, hon.
on September 9,2013 | 11:30AM
localguy wrote:
Assad is all talk, no action. Did you see him on the news, he struggled to put sentences together, not sure what to say. Legend in his own mind. We've lost track of how many times idiots have threatened us and been taken out for good. Let him rant and rave, his days on top of the ground are numbered. He knows it.
on September 9,2013 | 06:31AM
ricekidd wrote:
thats what U think....
on September 9,2013 | 07:05AM
Nevadan wrote:
For someone who criticizes Assad's sentences, Localguy sentences are no better. Pathetic English!
on September 9,2013 | 09:51AM
8082062424 wrote:
A lot of what you said describes Obama also
on September 9,2013 | 08:04AM
2localgirl wrote:
hey localguy, if what you say is true, Legend in his own Mind, they are equally matched!! Let's send the Big O over there with a sling shot and see who wins!
on September 9,2013 | 08:55AM
Slow wrote:
The Big O was Roy Orbison. Check Wiki.
on September 9,2013 | 10:42AM
aomohoa wrote:
Ridiculous macho comment. Kind of like Obama.
on September 9,2013 | 09:28AM
Slow wrote:
Good point. Assad is not a polished American newscaster. So what? I believe we are the ones doing the threatening. Get it?
on September 9,2013 | 10:41AM
Skyler wrote:
Srsly? I rather doubt English is his first language.... but language aside, Obama should let the diplomats pursue the idea of Syria turning over their chemical weapons for destruction so he can put his focus elsewhere. He has an economy to fix, for crying out loud!
on September 9,2013 | 11:02AM
aomohoa wrote:
I'm not defending him, but let's hear you speak English. People in other countries speak many languages including English. How many languages do you speak local guy? Angry English
on September 9,2013 | 12:44PM
2localgirl wrote:
Malani, you know who he is, did you really expect more from him??
on September 9,2013 | 08:54AM
aomohoa wrote:
Well said.
on September 9,2013 | 09:26AM
lokela wrote:
One nut after another. It's time we stop meddling in the Mid East and concentrate on our own people. These nations have nothing to lose. Let them fight their own wars.
on September 9,2013 | 05:49AM
LanaAloha wrote:
Really.
on September 9,2013 | 06:02AM
allie wrote:
yup
on September 9,2013 | 06:26AM
aomohoa wrote:
Just think what we could do for our own people if we would stop trying to rule the world.
on September 9,2013 | 09:29AM
Slow wrote:
Mahalo, aomohoa.
on September 9,2013 | 10:42AM
viszo1958 wrote:
It's definitely ironic that right when Obamacare is going into effect the President wants to help Syria?
on September 9,2013 | 06:01AM
James_M wrote:
Another Middle Eastern madman.
on September 9,2013 | 06:04AM
cojef wrote:
It has become the battle of egos with grave consequences as human lives are at stake. Creditability of the USA means very little since the Benghazi debacle and could have set the character of how the world portray what we stand for. Here, American lives were slaughtered and we are portrayed just as though it was caused by a demonstration, fully being aware that it was Al Quida sponsored terroism. After promising to take swift and decisive actions and bring the thugs responsible to justice, thus far nothing has been implemented. The Arab World has witnessed that this President is "paper tiger" and his words are for sake only political expediency. Thus, Assad is simply mimicing the President by drawing his "red line" in the sand by threathing us with retaliatory actions if we should take military strikes against his nation.
on September 9,2013 | 06:11AM
aomohoa wrote:
LIke children on the play ground, only with devastation.
on September 9,2013 | 09:30AM
Slow wrote:
As Assad pointed out in his TV interview, the U.S. has no creditability since General Colin Powell fell on the sword and, as a good, soldier, lied to the U.N. about evidence of WMD as George W. Bush wished. Maybe the Arab world has noticed that your "paper tiger" has killed thousands in Afghanistan, flies killer drones at will over foreign nations, invades countries whenever we want...not exactly "paper."
on September 9,2013 | 10:48AM
Anonymous wrote:
Paper Tiger country......thats us for sure. We need to fix our own problems first. Every time something happens to some far away land, we stick our big mouth in their face and tell them what to do. We give them plenty "kala" to buy their friendship, then they turn on us !! How we going to get out of this mess with Syria ?? Only we think we have a problem....Assad's wife don't think so....she's busy SHOPPING !!
on September 9,2013 | 06:16AM
allie wrote:
Sunnis and shiites will go on killing each other without us.
on September 9,2013 | 06:27AM
PokeStop wrote:
Only good one is a dead one!
on September 9,2013 | 07:31AM
aomohoa wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 9,2013 | 09:31AM
Slow wrote:
PokeStop is what is known as a troll. Hide behind a name and say weeely weeely offensive things to cause a reaction. I fell for it once or twice. Now I skip this guy's, along with the oh, so provocative allie.
on September 9,2013 | 10:51AM
aomohoa wrote:
WHY? I didn't say anything bad. Oh, maybe I said something about PokeStop. LOL
on September 9,2013 | 12:48PM
Skyler wrote:
They seem to be doing a good enough job as it is, so let them do what they're doing without our help.
on September 9,2013 | 11:05AM
LanaAloha wrote:
True.
on September 9,2013 | 09:00AM
serious wrote:
I sometimes think the Asian airline companies have a concept, if the pilot doesn't meet your standards, than lower your standards. although, this sounds like an equipment malfunction. But they did the right thing, the painted over their company name. Bad PR if you don't.
on September 9,2013 | 06:18AM
localguy wrote:
Oh puhleeze. Assad is so full of it, truly a legend in his own mind. No ethical values, only if it to keep himself living the good life, his people mean nothing to him. He and the NK Dear Leader are twins, both totally dysfunctional, no leadership qualities at all. Assad would do well to learn the lessons of history's fallen dictators, especially Romanian dictator Nicolae and his wife Elena Ceausescu. After the people's take over and quick court trial, they were taken outside and executed so fast the news camera reps were late. The people had spoken, tyrant dictators will not be tolerated. Sooner Assad leaves or is living underground in a pine box, the better for everyone.
on September 9,2013 | 06:30AM
2localgirl wrote:
yeah, had forgotten about them....it was around Christmas wasn't it. I remember where I was at the time. Have just checked online, it was Christmas, 1989. As I say, memorable moment. nothing like a dictator who is no longer in power, one way or another....
on September 9,2013 | 09:01AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Still have not seen any proof or evidence that his government initiated the gas attacks....
on September 9,2013 | 07:00AM
soundofreason wrote:
Assad is saying these weapons are the work of the rebels used to invoke JUST the type of response O'bama is doing. What IF he's right? Have we not been fed bad information before?..........recently?
on September 9,2013 | 07:03AM
ricekidd wrote:
"you can get the (OBAMA) Kid out of the Ghetto but can't get the "GHETTO" out of the KID(OBAMA) Wanna be gangsta trying to be tough... we all going to find out how tough he realy is... IM sorry everyone but its about time we get R Pompus get kicked hard.... hard enough we will be stuting our mouth shut....
on September 9,2013 | 07:04AM
Slow wrote:
You got it! Some one finally gets it! Obama is a ghetto trash watermelon eatin' coon. Who are you talking about? He is a middle class American who is well-educated and does not talk your cartoonish version of ebonics. Don't really like folks with dark skin, eh?
on September 9,2013 | 10:36AM
WesleySMori wrote:
"WOW SLOW"!! Why Don't YOU Give Your NAME if You're GOING to TRASH OUR "POTUS"!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!
on September 9,2013 | 01:18PM
lawman1175 wrote:
Sorry Obama, have totally lost faith in your administration. Tried to give you the benefit of the doubt but too many lies and too much smoke and mirros with your administration, especially as of late.
on September 9,2013 | 07:42AM
2localgirl wrote:
nononononononononononononono NO! What do you not get about NO?!!!
on September 9,2013 | 08:47AM
Lowcal_Boy wrote:
"In London, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was unmoved by Assad's denial, saying he would be confident going into any courtroom with the evidence gathered by the United States that Syria's government used chemical weapons against its people." Unknowingly John Kerry has finally said something that makes sense... take Assad to court. The International Criminal Court was formed to handle cases just like this. Book'um Johno!
on September 9,2013 | 08:56AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Kerry would lose in any court. He does NOT have any positive proof that Assad ordered the chemical weapons attack. In fact, there is an AP report that said that rebels have admitted setting off chemical weapons while moving them. Also German intelligence intercepted requests from Syrian commanders to use gas but all was denied by Assad.
on September 9,2013 | 11:22AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
When people do not want to solve the real problems that they face, they procrastinate. When Obama does not want to solve his real problems he goes galavanting all over the USA and the world and when a real crisis arises, such as Syria, he hunkers down in his Bomb Shelter and tells his Generals to ATTACK. What a scardy cat !!!!!!
on September 9,2013 | 08:57AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
USA: "Syria, surrender all your chemical weapons!"

Russia: "Yeah, give them up. Sounds good."

Syria: "OK, we agree, we'll surrender them."

USA: "We refuse to accept "yes" as an answer. We need to bomb something."

And the rest of world laughs at us or spits at the mention of our name.


on September 9,2013 | 09:08AM
inverse wrote:
Assad will NOT directly retaliate against the US as he knows his military forces will be wiped out but he needs to look strong and defiant against the US to his allies and enemies just as Saddam Hussein did when he was wrongly accused for restarting an active WMD program by a coordinated US LIE by Cheney, Rove, Bush2 and Rumsfeld. Assad has denied he or his forces under his control released the chemical agents and the US has NOT provided irrefutable evidence to directly linking the nerve gas released by Assad. It could have been rebel fighters who were former military under Assad or other faction trying to frame Assad so that US would foolishly take out Assad and allow even more Muslim extremists to take control of Syria. If US bombs Syria guarantee a rise in terrorist attacks on non-military US targets, including killing US citizens in the US and abroad. I cannot believe Obama would start a war between the US and Syria who did NOTHING to the US all because he has to SAVE FACE. If Obama wants to US military force how about he send special forces to go into Libya and catch murderers of US ambassador Stevens and 3 other Americans?
on September 9,2013 | 10:08AM
Waokanaka wrote:
So, there's an offer to, maybe, possibly, no fingers crossed, offer to turn over ALL chemical weapons rather than bomb Syria back to the Stone Age, and the US Defense Industry, I mean, US Government, says absolutely not ?? Since when does turning down an offer to start a war make sense?? The Mideast, including Israel, is a rat nest filled with self preservation - Israel, and liars - the Arabs bent on destroying Israel. Who does the US think it is, trying to solve a 3,000 year old conflict ?? It's like HPD showing up at a domestic conflict, they try to diffuse the situation and end up being attacked by the husband AND wife !! Take the chemical weapons away and see what happens before launching any attacks. Call Assad's bluff before busting out the trump missiles, what cost is it to the US ?? Or is the media and it's Defense Industry partners bound and determined to put MORE US soldiers in harms way because someone DARED to cross a line ?? I thought daring someone to cross a line ended in 4th or 5th grade...................
on September 9,2013 | 10:16AM
Slow wrote:
I erroneously steted below that 11 time world surfing champion, Kelly Slater, born in Florida, is of Lebanese heritage. IT'S WORSE!! His roots are SYRIA!! Same with the late Steve Jobs, Paul Anka, and mitch Daniels (Gov. of Indiana). Some one tell PokeStop that now we have to drop an H-bomb on Indiana.
on September 9,2013 | 10:23AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Steve Jobs was probably a role model to the Syrian Electronic Army.
on September 9,2013 | 02:05PM
sailfish1 wrote:
The idea of turning over all of Syria's chemical weapons under international control is NOT from Kerry. It was proposed by Russia during Putin's meeting with Obama and Syria is agreeable to it. Let's do it and avoid military action which will just kill more innocent Syrian civilians. All the U.S. warmongering fools should just shut their mouths and go hide under the rock where they came from.
on September 9,2013 | 11:17AM
RuffDiamond wrote:
The President needs to listen to the American people and show Assad that in America we do listen to our people and our people want us to stay out of this for the time being. I cannot see why The President thinks it is so imperative we bomb them - other than this is what he wants to do and has threatened to do. Back down; listen to the people your represent.
on September 9,2013 | 11:51AM
rayhawaii wrote:
An eye for an eye for an eye. Going to be so many eyes. Then after it is all over some radical will say, "I'm the one who dropped the gas not the guys you BLEW UP that I was hoping you would BLOW UP." "FOOLED YA !!!!' Works every time.
on September 9,2013 | 12:09PM
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