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Syria Warns of Regional War if Attacked
PARIS (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad says military strikes against his country would risk triggering a regional war.
The Syrian leader says the Middle East is a "powder keg" and no one can say what will transpire if the West takes military action against Syria.
He warns, however, that "the whole world will lose control of the situation. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists."
He also says Syria has challenged the U.S. and France to provide proof to support their allegations that Damascus has used chemical weapons.
He says leaders of both countries "have been incapable of doing that, including before their own peoples."
Assad made the comments in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. Excerpts were published Monday on the paper's website.
A French intelligence estimate alleges that the Syrian regime launched an attack Aug. 21 involving "massive use of chemical agents" and could carry out other strikes of a similar nature in the future.
The government published a 9-page synopsis Monday about Syria's chemical weapons program that found that at least 281 deaths could be attributed to the attack in areas outside Damascus. The analysis based that count in part from dozens of videos culled by French intelligence services.
President Francois Hollande has backed a call from President Barack Obama for a military strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government in retaliation for the attack.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault hosted lawmakers, his defense and foreign ministers, and intelligence and security officials Monday to discuss Syria.
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