Assad warns 'chaos' in Middle East will follow strikes
September 2, 2013 | 7:48AM ET | Updated 1:30PM ET
Syrian president warns of dangerous repercussions as Obama pushes Congress to approve military strike
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the Middle East as a "powder keg" Monday, saying the region would "explode" if the United States and its allies execute a military strike on Syria. His warning came as the Obama administration pushed legislators to approve punitive military action over last monthís alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
"The Middle East is a powder keg and the fire is approaching today," Assad told French newspaper Le Figaro.
"You canít only talk about what the Syrian response will be, but what could happen after a first strike. And no one knows what would happen. Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes," he said.
"Chaos and extremism will be widespread," he warned. "The risk of a regional war exists."
Assad said he did not regard the people of France as enemies, but described the countryís policies as "hostile." France has indicated that it would support a U.S.-led strike on military targets in Syria.
"There will be repercussions, of course negative, on Franceís interests" if that happens, Assad said.
Earlier Monday, Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari asked the United Nations to prevent "any aggression" against the country.
In a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, he urged "the U.N. Secretary General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria," state news agency SANA reported.
He called on the Security Council to "maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy."
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