Expert team to probe Syrian sarin gas attack

In his first interview since an April 4 attack on the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people, sickened hundreds and angered the world, President Bashar Assad reasserted the government's denials of responsibility but contended that the episode had been fabricated as a pretext for a USA retaliatory missile strike. Russian Federation blamed the West for supporting rebel groups, which it says are terrorists.

"Definitely, 100 percent for us. We don't have an arsenal, we're not going to use it". Syria "provided a grossly incomplete declaration to the OPCW of its chemical weapons program".

In an exclusive video interview with Agence France-Presse, he said "there was no order to make any attack".

The embattled Syrian leader denied that his government possessed chemical weapons, having allegedly disposed of them following a 2013 agreement brokered by the US and Russian Federation.

He said the entire incident was "fabricated" and "unconvincing".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has outlined Moscow's dissatisfaction in a letter to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director General Ahmet Uzumcu with its fact-finding mission into the reported April 4 chemical attack in Syria, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said. Two days later, the U.S. launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield where the planes that carried out the attack were based.

"They are Al-Qaeda, they are Al-Nusra Front who shaved their beard, wore white hats and appeared as humanitarian heroes, which is not the case".

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"Such attempts won't succeed", he said. "How can you verify video?" "You have a lot of fake videos now", he told AFP. "Were they dead at all?" Since the deal, Syria has mostly used chlorine-an industrial chemical that can also be deployed as a weapon-in "barrel bomb" attacks.

According to media reports Assad said in an interview, his first since the alleged April 4 attack prompted a U.S. air strike on Syrian forces, "Definitely, 100% for us, it's fabrication".

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

Before the April 4 chemical attack, the West was "on the verge of a grim consensus", which had now changed, said Johnson. "Notwithstanding their use in more than 50 occasions of chlorine bombs, cluster bombs and other types of weapons that are meant to main and kill in the most horrific ways".

Mrs May also argued it was "highly likely" the Assad regime was responsible for last week's chemical weapons attack in Idlib province.

"We will not allow the peace process to be disrupted", he added.

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