PARIS (AP) - Syria's president warned today that the Middle East is a "powder keg" and potential Western military strikes against his country risk triggering a regional war.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Bashar Assad also was quoted as saying that Syria has challenged the U.S. and France to provide proof to support their allegations that Damascus has used chemical weapons, but that the leaders of both countries "have been incapable of doing that, including before their own peoples."
President Barack Obama and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, have accused Assad's regime of carrying out a deadly chemical attack against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21. The Syrian government denies the allegations, and blames opposition fighters.
Obama initially seemed poised to launch military action, but abruptly announced on Saturday he would first ask Congress for authorization. Hollande also has called for a forceful response against Assad, but is awaiting a decision from Washington first.
If the U.S. and France decide to strike, Assad said "everyone will lose control of the situation."