Russian Federation slams watchdog probe of alleged Syria chemical attack

While the missile strikes against Assad have sparked new calls for a war vote, some lawmakers say the focus should still be on an authorization against ISIS, especially if the strikes on the Assad regime were just a one-time response to the chemical weapons attack.

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.

Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem said the meeting sent a "strong message" to Washington.

"We have reiterated our position and were united in stating that the attack was an act of aggression, which blatantly violated the principles of worldwide law and the [United Nations] Charter", the three countries said in a joint statement.

Witnesses said they saw warplanes attack the town but Russian Federation says a rebel depot of chemical munitions was hit.

The Organisation 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.

He said: "We have a big problem".

The stockpile was destroyed in an operation overseen by the Nobel Peace Prize winning-group OPCW, but ever since there have been questions about whether Assad had declared all his weapons. Lavrov called on the USA not to repeat the airstrikes, which he said were part of efforts to oust Assad that won't succeed.

Syrian president Bashar al Assad says a deadly toxic gas attack widely blamed on his forces is a "100% fabrication".

He added: "In exchange they should commit to produce a real ceasefire, to end the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs, and to bring about a political settlement that relieves the Syrians of the tyranny of Assad".

In the interview, Assad insisted his regime gave up all its chemical weapons in 2013.

"Such attempts won't succeed", he said.

The Shayrat air base strike indicates that US President Donald Trump is more willing to use military force in Syria than was his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Lavrov was meeting with his counterparts from Syria and Iran in a show of support for Damascus after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Moscow earlier this week. Publications including in the USA and the United Kingdom have highlighted "many inconsistencies" in the version of events in Syria's Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said.

Since breaking out with mass protests in March 2011, Syria's conflict has spiralled into a devastating civil war that has left more than 320,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes.

Mr Lavrov that Moscow has asked Washington about the goal of the buildup and received assurances they were there to cut supply lines between the Islamic State group factions in Syria and Iraq.

  • Leroy Wright