Assad says Syria will defend itself: state media

WASHINGTON

Assad's comments Thursday come at a time of rising expectations of a punitive military strike against Syria by Western powers, in response to suspected poison gas attacks near Damascus last week. The group Doctors Without Borders says the attacks killed 355 people.

U.S. President Barack Obama signaled Wednesday that the U.S. is moving toward a punitive strike, saying he has "concluded" that Assad's regime is behind the attacks and that there "need to be international consequences."

Syria's state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling a visiting delegation from Yemen that "Syria will defend itself against any aggression."

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