Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar has quoted Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, telling guests at a presidential palace that he had the ability to "shut Israel up," even without his arsenal of chemical weapons.
The newspaper also reported that Assad spoke about his frustration of not being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for agreeing to allow a weapons team to remove his chemical stockpile.
According to the report, Assad told guests that Syria's greatest achievement had been the development of chemical weapons in 1997, saying that the country had sought to acquire the weapons to strengthen its influence regionally.
He reportedly said however that he no longer saw chemical weapons as necessary, explaining that even without his arsenal of poisonous gases, he could still attack Israel, telling guests that his stock of conventional weapons was enough "to cover Israel's airports" and to "shut it up."
Turning his attention to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who are currently collecting his prized weapons to be taken and destroyed, Assad said that he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize, which the weapons team picked up last week.
In a Russian brokered deal, Syria agreed to sign up to the chemical weapons convention and to allow its arsenal of poisonous gases and materials to be destroyed. The deal prevented a US led attack on Syria following the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons on a Damascus suburb on 21 August that killed hundreds. The country is estimated to possess some 100 tons of illegal chemical weapons including tons of the lethal Sarin gas, and has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the Middle East.
Earlier today, (Monday), the Head of OPWC asked for a truce in the fighting between Assad's army and rebel forces to allow it complete its mission.