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Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says that he does not need chemical weapons to “challenge Israel” and “blind [it] in an instant,” according to recent remarks reported in the Arab media.
As Western inspectors prepare to enter Syria next week, Assad renewed his threats on Israel and boasted of weapons that are “more sophisticated than chemical weapons,” according to remarks published by Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar news site and carried throughout the Arab media.
“We now possess deterrent weapons that are more important and more sophisticated than chemical weapons,” Assad was quoted as telling visitors to his presidential palace late Thursday, according to Iran’s state-run Mehr News Agency.
Assad has made increasingly threatening and erratic statements in recent weeks as rebel forces continue their fight to bring down his regime.
Syria originally created chemical weapons in an effort to combat Israel, Assad said, adding that the current situation in his country has “never been better.”
“We created chemical weapons in the ’80s as a deterrent against Israel’s nuclear arsenal,” he said. “Today, it is no longer a weapon of deterrence.”
Assad vowed to use other weapons to attack Israel once Western inspectors seize his massive stash of chemical arms.
“We have weapons that are more important and more sophisticated to challenge Israel, which we can blind in an instant,” he said, revealing that “there are thousands of tons of chemical weapons” in his country.
“In Syria, there are thousands of tons of chemical weapons that have become a burden to us since their destruction costs a great deal of money and could take years to destroy,” he said.
These chemical arms “create environmental challenges and others that would need solving. So they [United Nations inspectors] should just come and take them,” Assad said.
The Syrian president went on to claim that he successfully fooled the United States and President Barack Obama.
Removing “the chemical weapons is not the goal of the United States and their allies,” and it never has been, Assad claimed. “They wanted to change the balance of power and to protect Israel."
“We turned the tables and sent to the ball into their court,” Assad said. “This move embarrassed them in front of the American public, in Europe, and even in front of the U.S. government.”
The Syrian president also celebrated his “unprecedented collaboration with Russia,” which has helped arm Assad and took the lead on forging the deal to remove his chemical weapons.
“We have an agreement with Russia that they will intervene, in a big way, if Syria is attacked,” Assad claimed.
The West has ordered Syria to disband its program and destroy all chemical weapons by November.
U.N. inspectors are scheduled to begin inspecting the country’s chemical stockpiles net week.