Syrian strongman Bashar Al Assad has thrown a challenge at the US andFrance over allegations of chemical weapons use against his own people.
He made no categorical remark about possession of chemical weapons by his armed forces but said Syrian soldiers would not use them in an area where they themselves ran the risk of getting killed.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera published the translation of an article in French newspaper Le Figaro that asked Assad to "demonstrate' that his army 'did not resort to the uses of chemical weapons on 21 August in the suburbs of Damascus in an attack that killed over 1,000 people.
Assad has been accused by president Obama and French president Francois Hollande of presiding over the attack, which according to US sources, included the use of sarin nerve gas.
However, according to Assad, the claims were mere accusations and 'someone who makes accusations needs proof'.
Meanwhile, president Barack Obama is said to be planning more extensive action against Syria in an effort to crush Assad's military and topple the dictator, it emerged yesterday.
The US president was believed to be planning limited and targeted strikes to deter use of chemical weapons, following the deadly attack. However, White House briefings for senior senators point to a US military intervention on a much wider scale, that could be more devastating.
According to general Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the US army, Obama wanted to 'degrade' Assad's military forces while at the same time 'upgrading' those of opposition forces to bring about regime change.
Keane who spoke after talks with senators, including John McCain, who had been briefed by the president, said the president had decided to deter the use of chemical weapons but also to degrade military capacity of the Assad regime.
At the same time, he said, he had upgraded the capacity of the opposing forces. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was the opposing forces that hopefully would be able to eventually topple the Assad regime.
According to the Assad regime, rebel groups had launched the chemical attacks, a position that found little support internationally. However, military intervention in the protracted civil war has found little favour with the global community.
The US, the UK and France last week recommended targeted military strikes, but in an embarrassing defeat to David Cameron, the UK parliament voted down his proposal.
The French parliament is set to debate a similar measure today.