Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has described a poison gas attack blamed on his Government last week as “100 per cent fabrication” used to justify a US air strike.
- Assad reiterates that Syria gave up all its chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement
- Turkey, Russia agree to an investigation by chemical weapons watchdog OPWC
- Mr Assad says only an “impartial” investigations will be allowed
- UK blames Assad Government for attack
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.
“Definitely, 100 per cent for us, it’s fabrication,” Mr Assad told AFP in his first comments since a US missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to the chemical attack.
“Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists.
“They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.”
The United States and its allies say the Syrian military carried out the attack in Idlib province, something Syria has already denied.
“There was no order to make any chemical attack,” Mr Assad said.
“We don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal three years ago.”
“Even if we had them, we wouldn’t use them and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.”
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.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to support an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC) into the chemical weapons attack, Turkish presidential sources said.
In a phone call, Mr Erdogan reportedly stressed to his Russian counterpart that the use of chemical weapons was a crime against humanity.
But in the interview, Mr Assad said Damascus would only allow an “impartial” investigation into the poison gas incident, without specifying what “impartial” would entail for the Syrian leader.