Syria chemical attack: 'Were those children dead at all?' asks Assad

Image Assad gave the interview to AFP in Damascus on Wednesday

"Senator Rand Paul, (R-KY), said that strike wasn't in the U.S.'s national interest and the president didn't have the right to order the strikes without approval from Congress. Paul called the action an 'inappropriate way to start a war".

In November, a joint investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found that several units of the Syrian regime's forces had used chemicals against three villages in northern Syria in 2014 and 2015.

Yet Assad insisted: "Definitely, 100 percent for us, it's fabrication". But the obvious question raised by the April attack - if the accusations that Assad is behind the attack are correct - is: How did Syria have the chemical weapons if they were all destroyed?

Western leaders including US President Donald Trump have accused Assad of being behind last week's attack in the rebel-held town Khan Sheikhoun, saying his forces unleashed a chemical weapon during an air strike.

Assad this week said the reports on the recent chemical strike were "a "fabrication" to justify a USA strike on his forces". Now, Moscow has the strong example of the USA strike to remind Assad that unless he follows the Kremlin's lead, he can lose everything.

Eighty-nine people were killed and others injured in the April 4 gas attack in Idlib province.

Assad insisted it was "not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video?"

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"You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake, like the White Helmets, for example", he alleged.

"We don't know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun".

But the UK Ministry of Defence and Turkish authorities say they have carried out tests on samples that provide evidence that Sarin or a similar substance was used.

The Organization 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.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria is illegal, inhumane and has been occurring for the past three years.

While the most immediate US-Russian dispute concerns culpability for the chemical weapons, broader disagreements over everything from Ukraine to Russia's support for once-fringe candidates in European elections are among other sore points.

Assad, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, denied that any chemical weapons attack took place.

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He accused Russian Federation of siding with "a murderous, barbaric criminal, rather than with their worldwide peers."Safronkov, who demanded Rycroft look at him while he was speaking, responded: "I can not accept that you insult Russian Federation".

The OPCW's Fact Finding Mission in Syria investigates alleged attacks, but does not apportion blame. That cooperation can begin in Syria, where Russian Federation and Assad have ignored going after Islamic State, instead leaving it to US -backed Syrian Kurd and Arab militias to do the job.

He added that "morally" the Syrian government would never do this "because it's not acceptable".

"The results will not come quickly", Lavrov said.

If Russia chose the latter option, then it would face greater global isolation and opprobrium, said the United States diplomat. "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.

But Tillerson and Lavrov made it clear there were still profound disagreements over recent events in Syria, the future of Syrian president and Russian ally Bashar Assad, and allegations of Russian meddling in the USA election, among other issues.

"We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia", Trump said.

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