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Middle East

Bashar al-Assad embraces Twitter but warns Europe that it will 'pay the price' if it arms Syrian rebels


Bashar al-Assad has warned Europe that it will live to regret arming rebel factions in the Syrian conflict, adding that the move would lead to the “export” of terrorism to the continent.

Speaking to the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Syrian president also rejected claims that his forces had deployed chemical weapons. “If the Europeans deliver weapons, then Europe’s backyard will become terrorist, and Europe will pay the price for it,” he said.

“If Paris, London and Washington had any evidence for their claims [of chemical weapons usage], they would have submitted it to the global public.”

A number of Western powers have aired the idea of arming rebel factions in recent weeks, although there appears to be little appetite to send lethal weapons to Syria, for fear that extremist groups might get hold of such arms.

As well as the newspaper interview, Assad appears to have embraced Twitter. His office is now apparently using the social network under the handle, @Presidency_Sy. He currently has more than 800 followers, but is not following anyone himself.