02/09/2013 21:25 BST | Updated 03/09/2013 17:11 BST

Syrian President Bashar Assad Warns Of 'Regional War' If USA Strikes

President Bashar Assad has warned of the danger of 'a regional war' in the Middle East if the US and France launch a military strike on Syria.

Asked how Damascus would respond to any strike, the Syrian President told French newspaper Le Figaro: "The Middle East is a powder-keg, and today the spark is getting closer. One must not talk only about the Syrian response, but also about what could happen after the first strike.

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Prime minister David Cameron has insisted there will be no second vote in the parliament over Syria

"No-one can know what will happen. Everyone will lose control of the situation once the power-keg explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk exists of a regional war."

Mr Assad warned of 'negative repercussions' against France's interests unless President Francois Hollande gives up his support for the 'terrorists' seeking to oust him.

And he again denied responsibility for the 21 August chemical weapon attack, saying: "Whoever makes accusations must provide proof. We have challenged the US and France to put forward a single piece of proof. Mr Obama and Mr Hollande have been incapable of doing so.

"I do not say whether the Syrian army possesses such arms or not. Suppose that our army wished to use weapons of mass destruction, is it possible that it would do it within a zone where it is itself present and where soldiers have been injured by these weapons, as found by UN inspectors who visited them at the hospital where they are being treated? Where is the logic?"

Mr Assad's comments came after a report presented to the French parliament by prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault which said that the chemical attack "could not have been ordered and carried out by anyone but the Syrian government".

David Cameron has firmly rejected pressure to go back to Parliament in a fresh attempt to seek MPs' approval for British involvement in military action in Syria, following the Prime Minister's dramatic defeat last Thursday.

Downing Street said the PM had "absolutely no plans" to force a new vote, while deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said he "could not foresee any circumstances" in which MPs would be asked to rethink their opposition. Defence secretary Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that circumstances would have to change "very significantly" for the issue to be revisited.

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President Assad has again denied responsibility for the attack on 21 August

Meanwhile, Number 10 indicated that Britain is not expecting its military bases - such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria - to be used by allies in any air strikes in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Mr Cameron's official spokesman declined to say whether intelligence assets such as information from the defence listening post on Cyprus would be put at the disposal of the US, but said that the UK had not received any requests from allies for the use of bases "and nor are we expecting any".

The prime minister has come under pressure from senior Conservatives not to rule out a second vote on Syria in the light of US Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement that Washington has obtained evidence from blood and hair samples of sarin gas use against civilians by the Assad regime. Congress is expected to vote next week on proposals from President Barack Obama for a punitive military response, possibly involving missile strikes on selected regime targets.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the government should call a fresh debate if there was "new and better evidence that inculpates Assad", while former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I think it's very important in this rapidly moving situation that we don't rule anything out. It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, Congress affirms its support for the president's plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further."


But Mr Cameron's spokesman told reporters: "Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament."

Meanwhile, two polls on Monday have indicated that the British public is against UK forces being involved in military action against Syria.

An ICM poll for the BBC found that 71% of voters thought MPs were right to stop the British Government participating in an international military response, while 20% thought they were wrong while a ComRes survey for The Independent found by a margin of two-to-one, that the British public oppose military strikes by the United States on Syria and want the UK to keep out of Middle East wars because of the Iraq conflict.

It found that only 29% per cent of people agree that the US, without Britain, should launch air strikes against the Assad regime to deter it from using chemical weapons in future, while 57%.