Assad 'Very Concerned' Missile Strikes Would 'Tip the Balance'

International leaders weigh in on military action in Syria.

World leaders, including British Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, and Secretary of State John Kerry, are monitoring Washington as Congress considers military action in Syria.

World leaders, including British Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, and Secretary of State John Kerry, are monitoring Washington as Congress considers military action in Syria.

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World leaders, including Syrian President Bashar Assad, spoke publicly this weekend in hopes of contributing to the decision facing the U.S. Congress over whether America should bomb Syria.

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Assad sat down with PBS's Charlie Rose in Damascus on Sunday for an interview that will air Monday night. Rose told CBS's "Face the Nation" afterward that Assad is closely watching the ongoing political maneuvering in Washington, which is why he agreed to the interview at this time.

"[Assad] was calm, he knew the situation he was in. In fact, Damascus seemed relatively calm in the places I was today," Rose said.

The president would not confirm or deny his regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons, but said any such weapons that did exist would remain in "centralized control," Rose said.

 

The White House's proposal to fire missiles at Syria would target the Syrian infrastructure to launch chemical weapons but not the weapons themselves, for fear of releasing toxic materials.

Assad reaffirmed critiques of this strategy, saying he was "very, very concerned" it would "tip the balance" of the Syrian military's ability to prevent these weapons from falling into the hands of extremists, Rose said.

Meanwhile Secretary of State John Kerry continues to plead with foreign leaders for support, the week after Obama traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 economic summit.

No agreement on Syria came out of the summit – an unsurprising conclusion given Russia's historic support for the Assad regime. Following a meeting between the U.S. and the Arab League on Sunday, Kerry announced that 12 countries reached an agreement on deterring Assad from any future actions that cross what Kerry calls the "international global redline."

[PHOTOS: Alleged Gas Attack Kills Dozens in Syria]

Kerry offered no specifics on which countries signed the agreement and whether it includes military actions. Each country will make its own announcement within 24 hours, he said.

"We discussed today, all of us agreed – not one dissenter – that Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons, which we know killed hundreds of innocent people, including at least 426 children on this occasion, this one occasion, this crosses an international global redline," Kerry said, while speaking with Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah. "We agreed that the regime's blatant disregard for the institutional norms that the global community has abided by for nearly a century, it is critical that those be upheld."

Al-Atiyah stressed the ongoing international involvement in Syria in the more than two and a half years since the beginning of the revolution there.

"Several parties believe that foreign intervention would take place today or tomorrow or anytime. The truth is war in Syria has started two and a half years ago," he said through a translator. "Foreign intervention in Syria is already present by several parties that support the Syrian regime. Therefore, we cannot really argue whether there'll be foreign intervention or not."

"The Syrian people over more than three years has been demanding or asking the international community to intervene," he said.

Kerry traveled to London and on Monday delivered remarks with his counterpart, British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Hague drew stark lines between Assad's remarks and the Syrian opposition, which many critics believe includes a growing Islamic extremist element.

"We mustn't fall into the trap of attaching too much credibility to the words of a leader, President Assad, who has presided over so many war crimes and crimes against humanity, has shown such a murderous disregard for the welfare of his own people, often denied events that have happened, [and] refused in the past to admit the existence of chemical weapons now acknowledged," Hague said.

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He went on to describe the Syrian National Coalition as a "democratic, non-sectarian opposition" that deserves greater support from the U.K. and other countries.