In a chilling warning to America, beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that if his country is attacked, the US and its allies should "expect every action" in retaliation.
Assad also said he had no knowledge of the deadly chemical attack allegedly carried out by his own military and criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry for making the charges without "a single shred" of evidence.
In a clear reference to his allies in Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, Assad warned that his government is "not the only player in this region."
"You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now," said Assad, who has been accused by the White House of killing 1,400 of his own people in an August 21 chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburbs.
Asked whether any retaliation for US strikes could include the use of chemical weapons, Assad -- whose government has never confirmed officially that it even has chemical weapons -- told CBS News that it would depend "if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it. It could happen, I don't know. I am not fortune teller."
Assad's warning comes comes at the start of a pivotal week for US President Barack Obama. The Senate is expected to take up the resolution after returning from its month-long summer recess today and Obama does a round of interviews with the major American broadcast and cable news outlets.
Obama has blamed Assad's government for the chemical attack in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburbs on opposition forces which have been battling to topple him from power for more than two years.
The Syrian president denied using chemical weapons against his own people as alleged by the US and other Western powers.
"We're not in the area where the alleged chemical attack was happened, as is alleged. We're not sure that anything happened," Assad insisted. "Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically, our soldiers. They went to the hospital, as casualties because of chemical weapons. But in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons, we only had video and we only have