US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack

Claims that his regime used chemical weapons against civilians in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 were "fabricated" by the USA, colluding with al-Qaeda terrorists, to provide a pretext for Friday's cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview released Thursday.

"It's stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack", Assad said, insisting that reports of a chemical weapons attack were made up to facilitate a military response from the U.S.

"The west, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists", he said in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He insisted several times his forces had turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, under a deal brokered by Russian Federation to avoid threatened U.S. military action.

The interview on Wednesday was his first since a suspected chemical weapons attack killed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. It said that its air strikes hit an arms depot containing toxic gas and blamed the rebels for storing such chemical materials.

In the interview, Assad insisted it was "not clear" whether an attack on Khan Sheikhun had even happened and questioned the authenticity of the videos being circulated online.

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

The chemical weapons strike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed 87, including women and children, with many more left wounded. "Were they dead at all?"

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Assad said more U.S. attacks "could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria".

Russia, Syria and Iran strongly warned the United States Friday against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an global probe into last week's chemical attack there. And Turkey, which received numerous wounded from the attack, said it has "concrete evidence" of the use of chemical weapons.

Any additional use of USA military force in an attempt to bring the Syrian conflict to a peaceful resolution should be viewed with serious skepticism before we commit ourselves to another fruitless, decades-long insurgent war in the region. We gave up our arsenal a few years ago.

"This is just the latest in a series of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime", Tillerson said of the April 4 attak".

Following a meeting between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, Donald Trump warned relations were "at an all-time low".

Russian Federation vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov speaks to the media after talks in Moscow with his United States counterpart Rex Tillerson.

"We assign an important role in our efforts to the Astana platform, which also stimulated the Geneva process, and we discussed preparations for the next meeting in Astana", Lavrov said. "We want to continue [our cooperation with them] by putting these differences of opinion in parenthesis", he added.

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