DAMASCUS, Syria — President Hafez Assad lashed back at Western governments that have accused Syria of supporting terrorism and vowed that he would not be intimidated by what he described as "threats" from the Reagan Administration.
Adopting an unyielding tone during a lengthy interview here Friday, the 55-year-old Syrian leader suggested that "the verbal bombs" directed by President Reagan at Syria and the U.S. bombing of Libya last month have frozen U.S.-Arab cooperation on a wide range of issues, including Syrian efforts to free Americans taken hostage in Lebanon.
The April 15 raid on Libya "won a lot of hatred" for the United States in Arab nations and across the Third World, said Assad, who is an ally of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi. "In every way, Kadafi is the winner and the United States is the big loser."
Assad said that his government, which has an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 troops in Lebanon, had made "serious efforts" to win the freedom of the Americans, believed to number five, being held by Islamic extremists.