Syria's Assad says chemical attack '100 per cent fabrication'

Apr 17, 2017, 05:32
Syria's Assad says chemical attack '100 per cent fabrication'

Following Donald Trump's "animal" remark for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the wake of the Idlib chemical attack, Syria's senior diplomat has come down heavily on the U.S. President. That runs counter to claims by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that attacks using chlorine in 2014 and 2015. They recounted the horrific aftermath of a gas attack, saying the town of Khan Sheikhoun was struck by regime warplanes.

"It wasn't only a violation of the laws of war but it was a - we believe, a war crime", Toner said.

Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat, who served as head of chemical warfare in the powerful 5th Division of the military until he defected in 2013, said Assad's regime did not declare large amounts of sarin and other toxic materials.

Medical examiners in Turkey, where numerous Khan Sheikhoun victims were taken, also have said that autopsies showed they had been attacked with sarin, a lethal nerve agent and a banned chemical weapon.

Kenneth Ward, the USA ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, used a hastily convened meeting of the organization's executive council to launch a withering verbal attack on Assad and his allies in Moscow. Russian Federation has alleged that the victims were killed by toxic agents from a rebel chemical arsenal hit by Syrian war planes.

"They say still that it is not very safe, but they can not put forward convincing arguments", Russia's top diplomat said. The U.S. accuses Assad of deliberately launching the attack.

In his AFP interview, Assad accused the West, particularly the United States, of being "hand-in-glove with the terrorists" over the Khan Sheikhoun incident. "They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack", he said.

Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari address Security Council after a resolution vote condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed to pass, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.

"The use of chemical weapons as a pretext for violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent state - a member of the United Nations - is a very risky activity", Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

Assad continued that regarding "that chemical attack, we don't know whether those dead - the children...were they dead at all?" Medical examiners conducted autopsies, in Turkey, confirming the use of nerve gas.

However, both the Turkish and Russian leaders have agreed, in a telephone conversation, to support the OPCW investigation.

But Sakat's "chemical" attacks were claiming few victims and after the third time the regime became suspicious.

He said investigators have collected samples that have been sent for analysis. The U.S. strike, accompanied by hardening American rhetoric on the Syrian president's future, also dragged U.S. relations with his ally, Russia, to their lowest level since the Cold War.