Obama and Assad vie for American support in TV interviews

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President Barack Obama is blitzing American airwaves on Monday in a bid to build support for a military strike against Syria.

But Obama will be battling it out for viewership as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's interview with a U.S. network television will also be broadcast on Monday.

Obama will appear on American TV networks in the evening, before addressing the American people from the Oval Office on Tuesday to lay out the case for U.S. involvement in Syria.

Assad, fighting a propaganda war as Washington agonizes over whether to attack, gave an interview to veteran CBS and PBS newsman Charlie Rose, which will begin airing at 1100 GMT.

On Sunday, CBS revealed snippets of the interview, in which Assad reportedly insisted he was not behind the August 21 gas attack on a Damascus suburb.

CBS also said that Assad warned the American people not to become militarily involved in the rebellion against his regime that first erupted in March 2011.

The Syrian leader also reportedly warned that as his country prepares “as best we can” for U.S. military action, there could be a bitter consequences.

“There's no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people,” he reportedly told Rose.

Assad said he “had a message to the American people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the Middle East in wars and conflicts.”

He also suggested that there would be some kind of retaliation among the people aligned with him in the event of a strike, CBS said.

Lawmakers are returning on Monday from the summer break and will begin debating on whether to approve limited U.S. military action in Syria, with a Senate vote possibly coming as early as Wednesday, AFP news agency reported.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in a tour to rally support from abroad, said a number of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, were willing to sign a statement agreed by 12 of the G20 countries last week calling for a “strong” reaction to the alleged attack, according to AFP.

After talks with Arab League leaders in Paris, Kerry said: “All of us agree, not one dissenter, that Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons... crosses an international global red line.”

Asked about Assad's denial, Kerry told journalists traveling with him on his next stop in London that “the evidence speaks for itself.”

It is unclear whether Obama, would decide to go with a military operation alone if he fails to win congressional approval.

According to a Washington Post survey some 224 of the current 433 members of the Republican dominated House were either “no” or “leaning no” on military action as of Friday. A large number, 184, were undecided, with just 25 backing a strike.

(With AFP)

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