Tuesday, 23 May, 2017

Syria's Assad says chemical attack '100 percent fabrication'

Syrian children receive treatment in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun a nearby rebel-held town in Syria's northwestern Idlib province US-Russia Trust at a 'Low Point,' But Is a New Relationship Even Possible?
Erik Tate | 14 April, 2017, 19:10

But Assad said evidence came only from "a branch of Al-Qaeda", referring to a former jihadist affiliate that is among the groups that control Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located.

"They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack", added Mr Assad, who has been in power for 17 years.

In an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus - his first since the alleged April 4 attack prompted a USA air strike on Syrian forces - Assad said his army had given up all its chemical weapons and that Syrian military firepower was not affected by the United States strike.

"It is an attempt by him to throw up false flags, create confusion", Toner said.

Washington in retaliation launched missile strikes on a Syrian air base they say was the starting point for the chemical weapons attack, a move that ratcheted up tensions between the United States and Syria's ally Russian Federation.

On Wednesday, its ally Russian Federation vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution to condemn the attack.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said experts had analysed available information "and their preliminary assessment (was) that this was a credible allegation".

'Boss Baby,' 'Beauty' outshine 'Smurfs 3' at box office
The Boss Baby also added another $37.5 million internationally this weekend to bring its overseas total to $110 million. The movie starring Scarlett Johansson gained a modest $7.4 million in its second weekend at the box office.

"These have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, or a sarin-like substance", the delegation said during a special session on Syria at the OPCW in The Hague.

The US strikes on Shayrat airbase and a reversal of what had been a growing diplomatic acceptance that Mr Assad's removal was no longer a priority may have taken its toll, our correspondent adds. "There hasn't been a single fact, although under the pressure of President Donald Trump's foes the White House has been forced to periodically make statements containing unfounded accusations against us".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned Russian support for the Assad regime, calling on Moscow to abandon their ally.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that OPCW inspectors should visit both the Syrian air base, which the USA said served as a platform for the attack, and Khan Sheikhoun to get a full and objective picture.

Looking at the resolution's supporters sitting around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council, he said: "You are afraid of an impartial investigation" that the Syrian government was being blamed for chemical weapons attacks carried out by extremists.

IS is facing twin offensives by Iraqi forces on the city of Mosul and by an Arab-Kurdish alliance on its de facto Syrian capital Raqa, backed by a US-led coalition that launched air strikes against the jihadists in 2014.

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