Syria's Assad says chemical attack evidence 'fabricated' in interview

Apr 16, 2017, 02:02
Syria's Assad says chemical attack evidence 'fabricated' in interview

"It's stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack", Assad said, insisting that reports of a chemical weapons attack were made up to facilitate a military response from the U.S.

"We have reiterated our position, and we are united in stating that the attack was an act of aggression, which blatantly violated the principles of worldwide law and the U.N charter", Lavrov said during the meeting.

He claimed the U.S. and the West were "hand-in-glove with the terrorists".

In an interview with France's AFP news agency, Assad said there was no order for a chemical attack and maintained his regime does not have such weapons.

Adults under 30 are the only age group in which more people disapprove (56%) than approve (39%) of USA missile strikes against Syria.

The President later seemed to strike a more conciliatory note and said he expected "things will work out fine" between the U.S. and Russian Federation. Last week, Australian ambassador Robert Bowker admitted that while the Syrian president has committed quite atrocious acts and it would be ideal for him to no longer be in power, forcing an impeachment or suchlike could lead to an even more unsafe person taking his place.

"The total amount of chemicals to be destroyed was 1,300 tons, while the general claimed yesterday that there were 2,000 tons of chemical weapons", Lavrov said.

Moscow and Damascus have said the victims were killed by toxic agents released from a rebel chemical arsenal and warned against putting the blame on Syria until an independent inquiry has been conducted.

Global chemical weapons experts have reportedly gone to Turkey to collect samples taken from Khan Sheikhoun.

Lavrov argued that the remote investigation initially planned by the OPCW is unreasonable, stating that the organization should be more responsible in fulfilling its duties.

"You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake, like the White Helmets, for example", he alleged.

The suspected chemical weapons incident in Syria's northwestern province on April 4 claimed dozens of lives, including those of children. "Even if we have them, we wouldn't use them", said the Syrian president.

"There was no order to make any attack, we don't have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago", Assad said.

While the intercepted communications took place before an attack blamed on the Syrian administration, a senior US official told CNN that the USA did not know about the strike before it happened.

Moscow has warned against putting the blame on Damascus until an independent inquiry is conducted and vetoed a proposed United Nations resolution on the attack, saying it failed to mention the need to inspect the affected area. The missile strike killed 10 people.

It was the first direct U.S. military action against Assad's forces since the start of Syria's civil war six years ago and led to a quick downward spiral in ties between Washington and Moscow.

The US and its allies say the Syrian military carried out the attack, something Syria has already denied.

"We think that it is absolutely necessary to conduct a thorough, objective, professional, and unbiased investigation". But yesterday, he tweeted: "Things will work out fine between the United States of America and Russian Federation".

"At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!"

The strains in ties were clear as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received a frosty reception Wednesday on a visit to Moscow.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem listens during his meeting with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, April 13, 2017.

Nonetheless, he added, "we had indications that there was something that was going to happen, and we took many measures in that regard".