BEIJING - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused foreign nations of giving orders to "terrorists" battling his government's forces in an interview with China's state CCTV broadcast Monday.
He spoke as UN Security Council members negotiate a resolution on how to respond if Syria fails to fulfil an international deal to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal. The United States, Britain and France want a tough resolution that could include sanctions or the use of force if Syria fails to follow through, but Russia opposes such language. Assad told CCTV Damascus would carry out its commitments, but warned that militants obeying outside powers might try to make it seem otherwise. "We know that those terrorists follow the orders of other countries," he said, in an online video of the interview. "And these countries might incite the terrorists to block the inspectors from arriving, in order to blame the Syrian government for obstructing the implementation of the agreement."
Under the plan, a tentative deadline of last Saturday was set for a full accounting of Syria's chemical arsenal, which is to be destroyed by mid-2014. The Hague-based Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the process, said Saturday it had received a complete inventory from Syria and was scrutinising the data. Assad acknowledged the arsenal was big, and said it was manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s to counter Israel.
Meanwhile, Russian President Putin on Monday called any possible foreign military intervention against Syria a form of "aggression" that would rattle the entire region and contravene international law. Putin told a summit of an ex-Soviet security group that he was grateful for its decision to support Moscow's refusal to sanction strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
"The members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) are united in their view that the situation around Syria can only be resolved through political means," ITAR-TASS quoted Putin as saying at a meeting in the southern Russian port city of Sochi.
"Any outside use of force would be a grave violation of international law, which in the language of the UN Charter is referred to as 'aggression'," Putin said.
The Moscow-led bloc also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will head the country's delegation to the annual UN General Assembly, the pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper said on Monday.
Muallem will address the United Nations on September 30, the newspaper said, adding that the delegation, including Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, will leave soon for New York.
On Sunday, the Syrian opposition National Coalition said a delegation headed by group president Ahmad Jarba had arrived in New York ahead of the annual meeting.
The assembly opens after the United States and Russia hammered out a deal under which Syria will turn over its chemical weapons for destruction.
On Saturday, Damascus handed over the remaining details of its chemical arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the deal.
The agreement warded off planned US military action against Damascus in response to an August 21 chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed hundreds of people.
But the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are still haggling over the wording of a resolution that would enshrine the deal.
Britain, France and the United States want a tough resolution that would allow for sanctions or the use of force if Syria fails to implement the deal.
But Russia, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, opposes any mention of the use of force and has accused Washington of blackmailing it to win a tough resolution on Syria.