Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says a poison gas attack blamed on his Government last week was “100 per cent fabrication” used to justify a US air strike.
Bashar al-Assad reiterates that Syria gave up all its chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement
Mr Assad says only an “impartial” investigation will be allowed
Syria’s military had given up all its chemical weapons in 2013 after an agreement made at the time, and would not have used them anyway, Mr Assad was quoted as saying in an interview with news agency AFP.
The United States and its allies say the Syrian military carried out the attack in Idlib province, something Syria has already denied.
The April 4 attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people and prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in response, its first direct assault on the Assad Government in the six-year-old conflict.
Mr Assad said Syria would only allow an “impartial” investigation into the poison gas incident.
On Wednesday, Damascus ally Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn the attack and push the Syrian Government to cooperate with investigators.
Russia said the gas was part of rebel stockpiles, which the rebels have denied.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow vetoed the Western draft UN resolution because it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack.
Mr Lavrov said inspectors from global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW should visit both the Syrian air base, which the US said had served as a platform for the attack, and Khan Sheikhoun to get a full and objective picture.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss differences over Syria, but the Kremlin said the talks had not eased tensions.
US President Donald Trump said that US-Russia ties “may be at an all-time low” but later tweeted that “things will work out fine” between the two countries.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was the latest to condemn the Syrian Government, saying it was highly likely Mr Assad’s forces carried out a sarin gas attack.
“Apart from anything else, we believe it’s only the regime that has the capability to make such an attack,” Ms May said in a televised statement.
It was the deadliest such incident since a sarin gas attack killed hundreds of people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus in 2013, prompting threats of US military action.
Samples taken from Khan Sheikhoun last week tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, the British delegation at OPCW said on Thursday.
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