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Bashar al-Assad has denied reports of a chemical attack carried out by Syrian government forces last week, saying the they were “fabricated” and accusing the USA of working “hand in glove” with al-Qaeda to create a pretext for air strikes.
Speaking to French news agency Agence France-Presse, the Syrian president said the government no longer has any chemical weapons, and “even if we had them we wouldn’t use them, we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history”.
Monitoring groups and international aid agencies reported as many as 100 people were killed an many more injured in a poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun last Tuesday.
The attack prompted US president Donald Trump to order the first major military action of his presidency, launching dozens of missiles at the airfield from where the chemical attack was believed to have been launched.
Mr Assad described reports of the gas attack as “propaganda”, saying:
Our impression that the west is hand in glove with the terrorists, they fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.
Mr Assad said Khan Sheikhoun, in northern Syria, is controlled by “a branch of al-Qaeda, so the only information the world has had til this moment is published by al-Qaeda”.
He admitted government forces carried out an attack in the area, but said it took place “around noon”, in contrast to reports that said a gas attack took place early in the morning.
There was “no concrete evidence about anything, the only thing were allegations and propaganda and then strike”, he said.
Image via AFP