Syria's Assad says Idlib chemical attack 'fabrication': AFP interview

Posted April 17, 2017

Lavrov said the USA strike on the Syrian base has undermined peace efforts in Syria and reflected Washington's focus on ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

President Vladimir Putin's meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn't produced any positive shift yet in Russia-U.S. relations, the Kremlin said Thursday. Tillerson contradicted his administration by admitting in Moscow "we have no information" showing Russian Federation knew about the alleged chemical attack.

The suspected attack killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage.

"I couldn't believe at the beginning that Assad would use these weapons on his people", he said.

Attempts by these two USA administrations to wipe the slate clean with the Kremlin have fallen flat for one fundamental reason: Resetting relations with a country and a government that hold views so antithetical to America's - and that chronically aim to undermine American interests - just isn't going to happen.

He also reiterated his call for any countries that were signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention and which were "in a position to do so to share with the Secretariat any relevant information without delay".

But in his latest interview, Assad insisted it was "not clear" whether an attack on Khan Sheikhoun had even happened.

The agency said Thursday that Jalal Mansour was detained in northern Lebanon after changing his looks and using a fake identity card for months.

"We don't know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun".

But the UK Ministry of Defence and Turkish authorities say they have carried out tests on samples that provide evidence that Sarin or a similar substance was used.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews). United Nations U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley address the Security Council after a vote on a resolution condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.

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Mr Assad said Syria would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the poison gas incident.

"Our firepower, our ability to attack the terrorists, hasn't been affected by this strike", Assad said.

Because of this, the Editorial Board views the Trump administration's strike on the air base the chemical attack was launched from as a necessary and proportional response to Assad's
inhumane war crime.

Assad this week said the reports on the recent chemical strike were "a "fabrication" to justify a United States strike on his forces". Putin's military backing of Assad has been crucial in keeping the regime in power after six years of civil war.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has begun an investigation into the alleged attack, but Russian Federation on Wednesday blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding Syria cooperate.

Trump gave such criticism short shrift on Wednesday, saying: "I felt we had to do something about it".

Jonathan Freedland wrote on April 7, "Sometimes the right thing can be done by the wrong person". Ties with Russia, Trump said, "may be at an all-time low".

Trump's optimistic prognosis followed his declaration Wednesday that U.S. -Russia relations "may be at an all-time low", and that "right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all".

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun an investigation into the alleged attack, but Russian Federation on Wednesday blocked a UN Security Council resolution demanding Syria cooperate with the probe.

Following a meeting between USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, President Trump warned relations were "at an all-time low".

For Trump, the crises have come quicker and the learning curve has been faster.