How might Syria retaliate against a U.S. strike?

(CBS News) In an exclusive interview Syria's President Bashar Assad told CBS News' Charlie Rose that there will be a response if the U.S. attacks Syria. But what could retaliation for a strike against Syria look like to the U.S.?

Assad: U.S. does not have "a single shred of evidence" of chemical weapons attack

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, who served in the office of the director of national intelligence, explained on "CBS This Morning" that the Syrian intelligence service and military have likely prepared targets against the U.S. in the region and perhaps beyond. Miller also noted the military's connections with the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which may have a global terrorism capability.

Miller added that another "wildcard" is Iran, which he said "may decide to do something either in support of Syria or just to distract attention from itself in a different brittle situation."

Complete CBSNews.com coverage: Syria crisis

Turning to Rose's interview with Assad, "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell remarked that Assad did not refute possessing chemical weapons, though he did deny the late-August chemical attack. Miller said the response is a calculated one. "He didn't fall off a turnip truck," Miller said. "He's playing to a number of audiences, but chief among them are the American public.

"His best intelligence source right now on U.S. sentiment is the newspapers," Miller continued. "He has clearly read that this thing that is causing the White House trouble about getting this approval from Congress is the fear of retaliation.

"So if you note through the Charlie Rose interview, he touches as many times as he can, 'Expect everything' he says. Now, frankly, you might look at it analytically and say, 'If he is struck in a punishment operation, which is to say, '[You] used chemical weapons, that's bad, we're going to hit you in this limited strike so you know how much that hurts and you won't do it again,' there's no real upside for him to retaliate against that because he's escalating a situation he wants to limit.

"On the other hand, right now we're in the propaganda phase," Miller continued, stating that Assad's attitude toward an American American public that may be worried about retaliation is, "I need to fan those worries."

For more of Miller's analysis, watch the video above.

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  • Amanda Cochran

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