Once again, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed international allegations that his forces deliberately used sarin and chlorine gas in an attack on a rebel-held village.
More than 80 people were killed in the incident, including children.
In an interview broadcast by AFP, Assad asserted that the allegations are “100 per cent fabrication,” and that his government gave up its chemical weapons stocks as outlined in a 2013 agreement.
He refers to the pivotal moment the Syrian government agreed to surrender its chemical weapons stocks after hundreds of people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus perished.
Though the President has denied holding back any of the country’s supply, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said it believes the Syrian government is responsible for at least two chemical weapons attacks in the years since.
“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,” Assad stated.
His comments were the first received since the U.S. struck a Syrian airbase with missiles in retaliation for the deaths that occurred in the village of Khan Sheikhoun.
Allies in Moscow and Damascus have denied that the regime attacked the village and have proposed that the casualties were caused by gasses released after a weapons depot belonging to al-Qaeda insurgents was hit by conventional munitions.
Such would have been an effect of a legitimate government air raid, reports The Independent. No evidence by either country has yet been provided to support their claims.
According to Bashar al-Assad, details about the ordeal remains sparse and evidence touted by the west is tainted by “a branch of al-Qaeda.” Questioning the legitimacy of the video footage, he asked, “how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now.”
“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 added.
The President also stated that there is a possibility the entire event itself was fabricated. He commented:
“We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun. Were they dead at all? …The story is not convincing by any means.”
According to the BBC, Turkish and Russian leaders have agreed, in a telephone conversation, to support the OPCW in an investigation. Assad told AFP that he would allow an “impartial” investigation, but it must involve “unbiased countries… to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes.”