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Assad says chemical attack ‘100pc fabrication’

Updated Apr 14, 2017 01:16pm

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DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview with AFP’s Beirut bureau chief Sammy Ketz on Wednesday.—AFP
DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview with AFP’s Beirut bureau chief Sammy Ketz on Wednesday.—AFP

DAMASCUS: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has accused the West of fabricating a suspected chemical weapons attack that prompted an unprecedented US missile strike, in an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus.

The embattled leader, whose country has been ravaged by six years of war, said his firepower had not been affected by the attack ordered by US President Donald Trump, but acknowledged that further strikes were possible.

He also insisted his forces had turned over all their chemical weapons stocks in 2013 and would never use the banned arms.

His comments came in an interview conducted at his office on Wednesday, his first since a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.

“Definitely, a hundred per cent for us, it’s fabrication,” he added of the incident which killed 87 people, including 31 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

“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,” said Assad, who has been in power for 17 years.

‘A lot of fake videos’

The suspected attack on Khan Sheikhun, in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib, comes in the seventh year of the country’s brutal war, which has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced over half the population.

Assad said evidence of the suspected chemical attack came only from “a branch of Al Qaeda”, referring to a former jihadist affiliate among the groups that control Idlib.

Images of the aftermath, showing victims convulsing and foaming at the mouth as desperate medics working with meagre resources struggled to treat them, caused global shock waves.

But Assad, who appeared relaxed, said it was “not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now.” “We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun.

“Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was an attack?”

Syria’s government signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to hand over its stockpiles in 2013, under a Russian-brokered deal.

The agreement averted US military action after a sarin attack on a rebel area outside Damascus that killed hundreds of people and was blamed by much of the international community on Assad’s government.

Damascus denied responsibility, but agreed to turn over its stockpiles, while continuing to wage war against opposition forces.

In recent months, Assad’s army has clawed back significant territory, including capturing the one-time rebel bastion of eastern Aleppo.

Key to the turnaround has been support from ally Russia, which launched a military intervention to bolster Assad in September 2015.

The Syrian president said his forces had no military reason to hit Khan Sheikhun, describing it as having no strategic value and being far from the current battlefront. “This story is not convincing by any means,” he said.

The Organisation for the Prohi­bition of Chemical Weapons has begun an investigation into the Khan Sheikhun incident, but Russia on Wednesday blocked a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Syria cooperate with the probe.

And Assad said he could “only allow any investigation when it’s impartial, when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes”.

He insisted several times that his forces had turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles under the 2013 deal.

‘We gave up our arsenal’

“There was no order to make any attack, we don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago,” he said.

“Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.”

The OPCW has blamed Assad’s government for at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving the use of chlorine.

The Khan Sheikhun incident prompted the first direct US military action against Assad’s government since the war began, with 59 cruise missiles hitting the Shayrat airbase three days after the suspected chemical attack.

Assad said his Russian allies “didn’t warn us ... because the Americans called them maybe a few minutes before”. And he said more US attacks “could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria”.

But he insisted his forces were unaffected by the US strike. “Our firepower, our ability to attack the terrorists hasn’t been affected by this strike.”

Trump’s administration initially took a hands-off approach to Syria, with Assad raising the possibility the new US president could even be a “natural ally”.

But he said the American strike showed Washington was “not serious in fighting terrorists”.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2017

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Comments (68) Closed



Farjee Apr 14, 2017 01:36pm

I agree with him. Don't like him but also don't trust Americans as they have done it before.

Imran Apr 14, 2017 01:45pm

He is absolutely right. How can a president of another country ask to bomb another country while eating a dessert. So inhuman., insane.

ABC Apr 14, 2017 02:02pm

Courageous leader stood against world war of terrorism against Syria. Extremist filth is on the verge of defeat. Their masters conduct false flag attack to invade Syria

Sky Hawk Apr 14, 2017 02:26pm

Asad is a war criminal and must be brought to justice before its too late.

Taurious Apr 14, 2017 02:35pm

Assad is no "angel" but I "agree with him on this issue" I would say this is "false flag operation" conducted "jointly by Saudi and Israel" with the full knowledge of USA.

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 02:36pm

If it is true then why to hesitate for an enquiry..?

Skkk Apr 14, 2017 02:57pm

Sounds convincing as US and its allies has done this b4. and to trust someone as potus one has to have a lot of evidence now.

Saif zulfiqar Apr 14, 2017 02:59pm

Same type of blames were put on Sadam of Iraq for hidding Weapons of Mass Destructions and nothing was found after he was removed.

ABE Apr 14, 2017 03:07pm

Entirely possible, in this age of Fake News (Trump's favorite zinger), alternative facts and 'reality shows' which are mostly 'unreal'.

US is capable of anything.

Falcon1 Apr 14, 2017 03:14pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - Is anybody conducting or even insisting on an inquiry or investigation into 200 civilian deaths in Mosul, Iraq last week - caused by US Air Strikes? Least of all Iraqis or the US Military itself?

Is any TV Network, or newspaper even talking about it anymore?

Now you see why Syria was a convenient way to divert world's attention from US War Crimes elsewhere??

Raza Apr 14, 2017 03:16pm

America is very cunning and has no credibility so far.

deendayal Apr 14, 2017 03:21pm

The US missile strike on Syria is a diversionary tactic by Trump to deflect attention from his alleged ties with Russia during the recently concluded US presidential elections,where Russia is alleged to have played a vital role. There is US-Russia space cooperation ,where the Russian cargo ship supplies to the US space station.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:31pm

Assad has given thousands of interviews to all media channels CNN ,BBC,France 24 etc and never backed down!!

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:32pm

Syria did not use nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It did not use chemical and biological weapons against Vietnam. It did not use Uranium against Iraq. It did not try atomic bomb on living Algerian civilians in the Sahara dessert only US did.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:33pm

Russia called for a non biased investigation and alleged attack site to be investigated which is under control of Al Qaeda.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:34pm

Syrian observerty for human rights is a paid propagandist living in the UK .

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:37pm

Where was UN resolutions and meetings when US killed 250 civilians in one air strike in Mosul Iraq in March and where were they when Saudi led coalition strikes killed 235 civilians in a funeral in Sanna Yemen?

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:38pm

ISIS and Al Qaeda have stored chemicals in warehouses .

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:39pm

Terrorist celebrated US air strikes against Syrian army.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:42pm

Assad has numerous interviews on line one only has to watch to realise that he is not what West portray him to be and would out smart US or UK presidents in a debate.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:43pm

Assad and his government are not stupid to use chemicals and have no need when they are winning this is terrorist or US false flag.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:44pm

If the Syrian government used chemical weapons than why no terrorists killed?

syedchaudhrygangadinkhan Apr 14, 2017 03:47pm

It may be but you have a family history, Assad Babu. Your time is up. For the sake of people of Syria and to prevent further blood shed you should voluntarily step down.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:48pm

Simon Hersh journalist investigation called the red line the rat line provides details of chemical weapons smuggled from Libya to Syria.

Ths Apr 14, 2017 03:52pm

Assad unlike the Saudi presidential leaders the Egyptian president, Erdogan of Turkey does not back away from western media interviews " so he is less of a dictator then the later.

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 04:07pm

@Falcon1 You should raise your voice against the war atrocities and the dictators instead of supporting them...

Falcon1 Apr 14, 2017 04:31pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - Almost every Arab country is a dictatorship, especially Gulf States, like UAE and Saudis, who are instrumental in destroying Syria and Yemen. But Pakistan supports the Saudi aggression in both countries.

Do you feel comfortable living in a nation, under a government, which supports dictators, butches and war criminals?

I live in any of these countries, nor agree with their policies. Yet oppose war crimes where ever they occur, no matter who commits them.

Asim Apr 14, 2017 04:35pm

That chemical attack is doubtful as the accused is repeatedly and categorically denying involvement.

Khalid latif Apr 14, 2017 04:44pm

Khan Sheikhun, the Syrian air base, is committed in repeated attacks on the ISIS and other groups. It is a prominent operational base. First, a chemical weapon attack takes place. US, considering this a justification enough, invades the Syrian air base with 59 cruise missiles. The result? The ISIS is saved for the time being. Next, Afghanistan/Pakistan border is attacked with the 'mother of all bombs'. According to a US general, this bomb explodes above the ground. There are no buildings in the area. So what did the bomb destroy over the land, without penetrating the earth surface? Secondly, according to a CNN report, the builders of the bomb said the bomb has a very thin outer body. This means it would explode with minimum blast and fragmentational effect. How did the tunnels got destroyed, without the bomb penetrating and exploding? It appears, the ISIS may have benefitted from this attack too.

Khalid latif Apr 14, 2017 04:49pm

@Sky Hawk, sir, Assad has been fighting the terrorists for seven years. Does any stretch of imagination suggest that while his hands are already full, fighting the terrorists, he would enjoy killing his own people with chemical weapons? Nearly, a million innocents have been killed in Iraq, to date. Which leader should we remove?

Mahmood Apr 14, 2017 05:23pm

@Khalid latif - Good observation about the MOAB attack on Afghanistan. Also notice complete absence of any news reporter or video footage after the bomb attack in that region. All the reports being circulated are verbal statements from US officials without any independent verification or a journalist asking, where is the video footage from the plane which US is always eager to show in any attack, be it a drone, fighter jet or bombs dropped, like they did as early as 1990 when they attacked a long car convoy allegedly leaving Kuwait with looted wealth towards Iraq.

Without any pictures or video (which in itself can be fabricated) all the claims of a MOAB dropped on Afghanistan is only he said, she said crap. No news outlet had bothered to send in their own correspondence to verify the nonsense being dished out. Although CNN this morning reported, according to US military in the area, 36 IS fighters were killed by that Huge Bomb!

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 05:27pm

@Falcon1 No democracy in Iran either and it also supports the Syrian dictator..!

Skeptic Apr 14, 2017 05:28pm

By all accounts what the US did in Syria earlier in the week and yesterday over Afghanistan, actually smacks of trying to protect Saudi-supported groups, like IS, instead of trying to destroy terrorists or alleged means of delivering Chemical weapons.

Have the produced any evidence that Asaad used those chemical weapons in a Syrian town, after he had already won Aleppo, Idlib, and Hamas from Rebel fighters and IS, and was on the verge of completely winning the civil war in Syria after six years?

I will trust a stray a dog in a desert, before I will trust the US military or government officials. I am a Sunni Muslim. But trust Iranians and Syrians, before I will trust Saudis or their masters in Washington.

Skeptic Apr 14, 2017 05:32pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - Then why do you think Iran is the only country completely at peace that US wants to destroy?

ABE Apr 14, 2017 05:35pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - So what's your point? We should encourage and applaud US if it also attacks Iran? At least Iran is a democracy, unlike any of the Gulf states.

What has the US done against the Saudis, since 9/11, when most of the ring leaders on those attacks in the US, were Saudi Citizens?

hussain Apr 14, 2017 05:36pm

every time gas is used he denies, how about cluster bombs, he is not using them either they just coming from skies, Alavis are only 5% of Syrian population, why not allowing 80% sunnis to rule the country, why he has irani and Russian armies in his countries, if you are a leader and people don't like you, you need to leave, you ask help from iran and Russia to keep you in power and iran.

ABE Apr 14, 2017 05:37pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - There is an elected President in Iran and a Parliament also. Next month Iranians are supposed to go to polls again. Is that not a democracy?

Do Saudis every hold any elections, even for a city mayor, much less a parliament, PM or President?

Muhammad Apr 14, 2017 05:47pm

@Sky Hawk "Asad is a war criminal and must be brought to justice before its too late" WoW the person who is striving to save his country from the foreign mercenaries is war criminal and the Bush and Trump who illegally invaded and destroyed Iraq and Syria are the beacons of Humanity Good !

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 05:53pm

@ABE Iranian clergy altogether called democracy. More than half of iranian population is living in the West or the US, why if you have one functional modern democracy with lot of oil & gas..?

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 05:58pm

@ABE We criticize all aggressions and dictatorships throughout the world, ME countries are not excluded, including KSA...

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 06:03pm

@Skeptic Your foot soldiers to generals are fighting in the Middle East especially in Syria and you talk about peace in the region..!

Arif Nayani Apr 14, 2017 06:06pm

@Ahmaq Bin Babar.. So an election every 4 years covered by international media and with a voter turn out of around 72% in last elections which supersede even the so called mother of democracy UK in public participation is not a democracy by your standards..That's why you are gifted by God to live a life under the democracies ruled by Zardaris and Nawaz with tainted electoral results and voter turnout in lowest among democracies

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 06:08pm

@Skeptic Why do you need a self-proclaimed certificate to be a sunni muslim..? For me muslims are muslims, no division on sectarian footing..!

Muhammad Apr 14, 2017 06:17pm

@hussain "Alavis are only 5% of Syrian population, why not allowing 80% sunnis to rule the country" first of all Syria has some sort of democracy his government is consisted of alwis and sunnis what is your opinion about Bahrain where shias are 70% of population but they have no say in government ? secondly who will decide that who should rule Syria ? Syrian people or America and Israel along with Saudi Arabia and West ? why so-called "Syrian opposition" could not be able to send a joint representatives in Geneva talks if the majority of Syrian are with them ?

Skeptic Apr 14, 2017 06:20pm

@Arif Nayani - You took words right off my finger tips! Well said.

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 06:24pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "More than half of iranian population is living in the West or the US" Iran has more than 80 millions population and according to you 41 millions are living outside the Iran i.e. in West and USA WOW who told you ? it must be your guess or you must have dreamed about it

Mohammad Ali bajwa Apr 14, 2017 06:31pm

It is the primary interest of the house of Saud to get rid of their enemy who are becoming strong.

sky Apr 14, 2017 06:32pm

Grand alliance headed by Raheel Sharif should take up Syria cause and help out people there.

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 06:54pm

@sky "Grand alliance headed by Raheel Sharif should take up Syria cause and help out people there" Grand alliance ? and will General Raheel be allowed to fight against the terrorists nurtured and supported by Saudi Arabia ?

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 07:04pm

@Kabir This figure is from those iranians who are living in the West. They love their country, culture, history but their views about the clergy in power are not positive because they feel themselves taken as hostage by these governing mullahs in the post Shah Iran...

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 07:05pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "No democracy in Iran either and it also supports the Syrian dictator..!" International Media always minutely observe the elections in Iran which are being held after every four years and in my opinion Iranian democracy is far better than US democracy where popular vote has no power reference Al gore and Bush election and recently Clinton and Trump election where both candidates who secured more popular votes lost the elections and the candidates who secured more electoral votes became the Presidents as regard Syria they have some sort of democracy may be not very ideal but they have inclusive system as compare to those countries who are staunchly opposing Asad's regime i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab countries they have completely despotic Monarchies

Mahmood Apr 14, 2017 07:13pm

@Ahmed bin Babar - Most of the Iranian outside of Iran live in either the US, Canada or Europe. Vast majority of the diaspora of educated and rich Iranians ended up in the US after 1979 revolution. The entire Iranian population in the US is less than those of Pakistanis, which is still under 1 million. So by no means 'half of Iranians live outside Iran' as you asserted.

Secondly, nearly half the US-based Iranian-Americans are of either Bahai, Jewish or Zoarstrian persuasion. Do you honestly expect them to say anything positive about the Theocracy in Iran or the Mullahs who have the nation strong, in tact, and respected, with their influence much further than Iran was ever able to muster even under US-puppet the Shah?

The Muslim Iranian-Americans love their country and would go back if they didn't have to live by strict Islamic law and rules. Very few that I have personally met in the US, advocate overthrowing Mullahs or replacing with American-style democracy, which failed in Iraq.

ABE Apr 14, 2017 07:17pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "their views about the clergy in power are not positive because they feel themselves taken as hostage "

What nonsense! Have you actually met any Iranians living outside Iran personally to know their views first hand? Or just quoting from some anti-Iran website?

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 07:59pm

@Kabir You call it a democracy, compare with other democratic nations, where the State decides & controls the dress code for the common citizens. Where freedom of speech is also controlled or selective otherwise long sentences even capital punishment for criticizing or telling the truth..!

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 07:59pm

@hussain "every time gas is used he denies" why America and its cronies are afraid of independent inquiry ? if he is found guilty he should be penalized according to the international laws otherwise actual criminals should be brought to justice will America allow this ?

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:08pm

@Mahmood If you have a real & ideal democracy then all iranians living abroad shall come back and live in Iran with great pleasure but unfortunately the universal democracy is absent in Iran, as such these people are afraid and don't dare to risk their lives & democratic freedom...

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 08:09pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "where the State decides & controls the dress code for the common citizens. Where freedom of speech is also controlled or selective otherwise long sentences even capital punishment for criticizing or telling the truth..!" YES France and other European countries also control dress code what about your views about Burqa control in these countries secondly can you talk and write freely about holocaust in Europe and America ? no every countries have their own laws properly approved by its elected parliaments my dear this called democracy

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:14pm

@ABE For your kind information I live in Europe and have met thousands of Iranians for the last 3 decades. We believe in democracy and truth without following the propaganda stunts of either kind...

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 08:23pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "We believe in democracy and truth without following the propaganda stunts of either kind..." and what about UK and USA propaganda about WMDs in Iraq and on the basis of this propaganda they illegally invaded and destroyed Iraq and still Brit and US citizens again elected Tony Blair and George Bush for second terms

Muhammad Apr 14, 2017 08:34pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "For your kind information I live in Europe and have met thousands of Iranians for the last 3 decades. We believe in democracy and truth without following the propaganda stunts of either kind..." and still you are so ignorant about the number of Iranians living outside Iran secondly your comments tell that you are completely overwhelmed by the Western and US propaganda about Iran and Syria moreover your favorites USA and West are staunch supporters of worst of monarchies in the world can you deny it

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:37pm

@Kabir What is the difference between Iran & KSA as regards dress code and a special police force to enforce this undemocratic law which contradicts the basic human rights embedded in the UN charter..?

France and other western nations have not forfeited basic human liberties only in the wake of extremism they are discouraging veiling (Burka) for the purpose of identification alone.

Muhammad Apr 14, 2017 08:43pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "If it is true then why to hesitate for an enquiry..?" he is not hesitant USA and its cronies are and moreover will USA accept any enquiry report which will be against its will as he did in the WMD enquiry in Iraq

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:46pm

@Kabir Who has accepted or endorsed their propaganda..? However, if the West & US are so bad then why are you strengthening their economies by buying their goods in billions and trillions of dollars..?

Kabir Apr 14, 2017 08:53pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "if the West & US are so bad then why are you strengthening their economies by buying their goods in billions and trillions of dollars..?" Now you are deviating from original topic I am not at all against USA and / or Europe they must have lots of good things but buying their goods in billions and trillions of dollars does not make them reverent at all

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:53pm

@Muhammad Blame those iranians who have left this feed back. Now I see and believe you have dropped the thread of arguments. Anyhow, wish you good luck...

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 14, 2017 08:59pm

@Muhammad Why do you advocate the case of one brutal dictator..? Think beyond the box of sectarianism...

Muhammad Apr 14, 2017 09:08pm

@Ahmed bin Babar "Why do you advocate the case of one brutal dictator..? Think beyond the box of sectarianism..." I am not supporting any brutal dictator but history is very bitter my dear in the name of removal of one dictator i.e. Saddam Hussain West and USA destroyed the whole Iraq and killed millions of innocent Iraqi and still they bearing the fruits of their misadventure, then they toppled the Qaddafi and see what happened to Libya and now they are against the Asad and if you are reader of history the Syria was most peaceful country in the region before USA and West dream of removing him from power now what happened to Syria millions of Syrians have been killed and millions are left homeless please try to see realities beyond the propaganda

Ranga Apr 15, 2017 03:07pm

Looks like another 'weapons of mass destruction' case.