Earlier this year, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found "with a high degree of confidence" that chlorine gas had been used in Northern Syria in 2014. President Bashar al-Assad has chosen to fight the allegations with an all too familiar defense.
In a tense interview with CBS News' Charlie Rose Sunday night, Assad lashed out at the media, accusing the press of disseminating "malicious propaganda against Syria."
Though Rose hedged his language to a certain extent -- referring to the use of chlorine and barrel bombs as something "people look down on" -- the "60 Minutes" correspondent pressed Assad to answer for the claims.
"There are weapons of war that have been used that most people look down on," Rose said. "One is chlorine gas, they believe it has been used here. They say there is evidence of that and they would like to have the right to inspect to see where it's coming from. As you know, barrel bombs have been used and they come from helicopters. And the only people who have helicopters is the Syrian Army."
"So those two acts of war, which society looks down on as barbaric acts," he continued.
Assad shrugged off the allegations, claiming chlorine is "not military gas" and "not very effective," and denied the existence of barrel bombs -- crude improvised explosive devices containing nails and shrapnel. The U.N. has attempted to outlaw the use of barrel bombs.
"As you know, in the media, when it bleeds it leads," Assad told Rose, adding that he would be willing to invite a delegation to inspect his weapons. "And they always look for something that bleeds, which is the chlorine gas and the barrel bombs."
In 2013, the U.S. considered air strikes against the Assad regime following reports that sarin gas had been used against civilians. At the time, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the regime's use of the nerve agent a war crime, and Assad ultimately agreed to have his chemical weapons stockpile destroyed.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the use of chlorine, stating "that those responsible for use of chemical weapons — including chlorine — must be held accountable."
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