Turkey: Russia agrees to Syria chemical probe

In an interview with the AFP news agency, conducted under restrictions imposed by the Syrian government at the presidential palace in Damascus, Assad claimed the reported details of what happened were not credible because their source was al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front.

Mr Assad accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun so it had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government's Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.

Damascus and Moscow, Assad's main backer in Syria's six-year-old civil war, have claimed the toxic gas that killed more than 80 people in a rebel-held Syrian town on April 4 was released when government bombs struck a rebel-controlled chemical-weapons depot - an assertion that Western governments reject.

He claimed the USA and the West were "hand-in-glove with the terrorists". "They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack", Assad said in his first comments since the USA missile strikes in response to the chemical attack.

Victims' families are hoping for answers after last week's chemical attack by the regime on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, to the south of Idlib, in Syria.

A British delegation at the world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Thursday that samples taken from the attack site tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.

Most recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during a joint meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said there has been "no confirmation" of the use of chemical weapons.

"You have a lot of fake videos now", he said, according to AFP.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week in an attempt to defuse tensions over the Syrian crisis - but the top US diplomat admitted the relationship with Russia remains "at a low point".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday it was "highly likely" the Assad regime was behind the attack.

Russian Federation vetoed a Western draft United Nations resolution Wednesday saying it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack. Neither did Russian Federation deny the event occurred: Moscow claimed the deaths were the result of a regime airstrike on a chemical weapons stockpile on the ground, controlled by "terrorists".

Assad said he would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the incident to ensure it would not be used for "politicized purposes".

He also claimed the story was made up with the United States attack on a Syrian airbase in mind.

"Definitely, 100 percent for us, it's fabrication", Assad said in the video released by his office.

"OPCW experts are now analysing all information gathered from various sources" and is expected to "complete their work within the next two to three weeks", Uzumcu said in a statement, released from its Hague-based headquarters.

Trump should present the US Congress with a clear, comprehensive strategy on Syria to ensure that the use of force is necessary and authorized under global and domestic law, the release noted.

  • Leroy Wright