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US will sink in Iraqi swamp: Syrian President

Written by: Staff

Washington, Mar 28: Syria's President predicted the United States would 'sink in the swamp' that is Iraq and insisted his country took no part in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

In an interview with The Charlie Rose Show to be aired tonight on the PBS network, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that he had known that there would 'chaos and resistance' if the United States decided to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

''You will have (a) swamp. You are going to sink in the swamp,'' he said.

''They've (the United States) been there for three years.

What happened? We don't have any evidence that this situation is getting better, but we have all the evidence that the situation is getting worse,'' he said.

Assad also repeated his assertion that Syria was not behind the Feb. 14, 2005, truck-bomb murder of Hariri, a tough critic of Syria's decades-long domination of Lebanon. His death, which many Lebanese blame on Syria, prompted Syria's withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon.

A UN investigation into Hariri's assassination has told the UN Security Council of strong evidence that high-ranking Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies were involved in the attack that took his life and 22 others.

Assad referred to Hariri as ''a friend to Syria,'' and denied reports that the former Lebanese leader had told friends he feared for his life after a February 1, 2005, meeting with Assad.

UN investigators have reported evidence that Assad had threatened Hariri's life in the February 1 meeting and that Assad's brother-in-law, Maj. Gen. Asef Shawkat, could have figured in the plot to kill Hariri.

''Nobody threatened him in Syria, me or nobody else,'' said Assad.

Assad, after much delay, has agreed to talk to UN investigators in April about the killing and said that no evidence could possibly exist linking Syrian officials with Hariri's death.

''I'm sure there's no such evidence, 100 percent. I don't usually use 100 percent but this time I use it,'' he said.


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