Assad: Western powers are fighting an ‘imaginary enemy’

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday denounced France, Britain and the U.S. for submitting a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control.

In an interview with China's state television CCTV, Assad said that the Western powers were fighting an “imaginary enemy.”

Interviewed in Damascus, Assad said he was not concerned about the draft resolution and that China and Russia would “ensure any excuse for military action against Syria will not stand.”

The resolution came in response to a chemical weapons attack last month which killed hundreds of people. The U.S. government has said Assad’s forces were responsible for the attack, while the Syrian regime placed blame on opposition fighters.

Envoys from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - met last Thursday to discuss a draft resolution Western powers hope will make the deal legally binding.

Under a U.S.-Russian deal, Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal must be destroyed by the middle of next year.

In the interview, Assad said gunmen could hinder the access of chemical weapons inspectors to sites where the weapons were stored and made.

“We know that these terrorists are obeying the orders of other countries and these countries do drive these terrorists to commit acts that could get the Syrian government blamed for hindering this agreement.”

Asked whether Syria had lots of chemical weapons, Assad said: "Syria has been manufacturing chemical weapons for decades so it's normal for there to be large quantities in the country.

“We are a nation at war, we've got territories that have been occupied for more than 40 years, but in any case, the Syrian army is trained to fight using conventional weapons.”

However, he emphasized that the chemical weapons were stored “under special conditions to prevent any terrorist for other destructive forces from tampering with them, that is, destructive forces that could come from other countries.”

“So there is nothing to worry about. The chemical weapons in Syria are in a safe place that is secure and under the control of the Syrian army.”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Saturday Syria had handed over information about its chemical weapons arsenal, meeting the first deadline of the disarmament operation.

(With Reuters)

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