Assad says Syria prepared to confront US 'aggression'
September 1, 2013 | 12:30PM ET

State-run newspaper says Obama's decision to seek congressional approval for strikes signals 'sense of implicit defeat'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday that his country is capable of confronting any external aggression, and that threats of a U.S. attack would not discourage his government from a fight against an armed rebellion that Assad described as "terrorism."

U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that there should be a military strike on Syria in response to an Aug. 21 alleged poison gas attack, apparently on rebel positions in Damascus suburbs. U.S. intelligence officials say the attack killed more than 1,400 people, many of them children.

In his first comments on Obama's speech, Assad said that "Syria ... is capable of confronting any external aggression." His remarks were reported by state television, which said the comments came during a meeting with Iranian officials.

"The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles ... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America," Assad said.

Obama called for a strike against Syria but said he would seek congressional approval for any such action -- a move a Syrian state newspaper on Sunday described as a the start of a "historic American retreat."

The paper also said that Obama's reluctance to take military action stemmed from his "sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies." It said the American leaderís worry about limited intervention turning into "an open war has pushed him to seek Congress' consent."