Syrian President Assad Denies Using Chemical Weapons in CBS Interview

Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad during an interview with French magazine Paris Match in 2014. SANA/Handout via Reuters/Reuters

In a rare one-on-one interview with CBS News, Syrian President Bashar Assad denied reports that his regime has been using chlorine gas in barrel bomb attacks against civilians.

In the conversation with Charlie Rose, Assad described such charges as "propaganda" and questioned the efficiency of such tactics.

"This is part of the malicious propaganda against Syria," he says in a clip from the interview, which was broadcast Friday on CBS This Morning and will air in full on Sunday's 60 Minutes program. "First of all, the chlorine gas is not military gas. You can buy it anywhere."

He added, "It's not very effective. It's not used as military gas. That's very self-evident. Traditional arms are more important than chlorine."

Syria's civil war is entering its fifth year and has claimed as many as 200,000 lives. Assad's statements come a few weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Syria's alleged use of chlorine gas and called for an investigation.

In a different excerpt from the same interview, Assad claimed he is open to dialogue with the United States.

"As principle, in Syria we could say that every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States, regarding anything, based on mutual respect," he said.