Bashar al-Assad told Charlie Rose that some Americans are sugarcoating ISIS. Moreover, the Syrian dictator claimed, ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."
Rose asked Assad, "How much of a benefit are you getting from American airstrikes in Syria reducing the power of ISIS?"
"President Assad: Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes," answered Assad, in an interview that aired Sunday on 60 Minutes.
"Not like some-- American-- wants to sugar coat the situation as the-- to say that it's getting better. As-- ISIS is being defeated and so on. Actually, no, you have more recruits. Some estimates that they have 1,000 recruits every month in Syria. And Iraq-- they are expanding in Libya and many other al Qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to ISIS. So that's the situation."
Before airing the interview, Rose explained the unusual ground rules, "We traveled to Damascus this past week and met with Assad for an interview, under the conditions that we use Syrian TV technicians and cameras."
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an IDF base on the Golan Heights that treats wounded Syrian civilians who safely made their way across the border. Netanyahu visited the wounded and then later, surrounded by IDF doctors, nurses and soldiers, addressed the press in this Youtube video:
Tuesday, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama boasted that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” The assertion was premature. In early January, Syria’s Bashar Assad regime indeed started the process of transferring its chemical weapons arsenal abroad. To date it’s destroyed only 5 percent of its unconventional arsenal and it’s unlikely Damascus will finish the job. Despite international commitments to the contrary, precedent suggests that Assad will retain a residual supply for future contingencies.
The New York Times reported on September 5 that the United States is widening plans for proposed strikes on Syria to punish the Assad government for its alleged chemical weapons attacks. The plans now reportedly include the use of aircraft in addition to cruise missiles:
Secretary of State John Kerry said that after U.S. strikes against Syria, dictator Bashar al-Assad will be able to "stand up and, no doubt, he'll try to claim that somehow this is, you know, something positive for him."
CNN’s The Lead reports that former CIA director, General Michael Hayden points out that in contemplating a military operation against Syria of the sort that would be "just muscular enough not to be mocked,"
Mugged by Middle East reality, President Obama and Secretary Kerry seem finally to have awakened to the necessity to act—unilaterally and un-apologetically. That's heartening. Still, do they understand that the American action has to be decisive? After all, as the late Mike Scully put it, liberals sometimes get mugged by reality—but then fail to press charges. Will Obama press charges? And pressing the appropriate charges in this case means removing Assad.
The man who bears the ultimate responsibility for the gassing of his countrymen in Syria has been told by the White House that the bell does not toll for him. The Americans are coming and people will die. But he will not be one of them. Not this time, anyway.