Russia Says Syria Never Used Chemical Weapons, Alarmed by US Threats
Story Code : 642358
In an interview with the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed that, "According to our information, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad. We are convinced that he didn't do it."
Putin said he had offered to arrange inspections of the site in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, but that all the major powers had refused. He said the objective of the allegations had been to discredit Syrian President Assad and put pressure on him.
It was a way of "explaining to the international community why it was necessary to continue to impose measures to pressure Assad, including militarily," Putin said.
Over 80 people died in the April 4 purported gas attack on Khan Shaykhun, which the Western countries blamed on the Syrian government.
The US used the incident as pretext to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s central province of Homs on April 7.
Officials claimed that the suspected Khan Shaykhun gas attack had been launched from the military site. The Syrian government denies using or even possessing chemical weapons since the country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow is concerned over Washington’s threats to use force against Syria’s military.
"As you know, there have been not only threats [of using force by the US against Syria’s army], but a fact of using force in this area [Al-Tanaf on the border between Syria and Iraq]," Lavrov said.
"I believe this situation is rather alarming as it directly affects Syria’s sovereignty. Certainly, these issues need to be solved, and our troops are doing this now," the Russian top diplomat has noted.
"I believe this situation is rather alarming as it directly affects Syria’s sovereignty. Certainly, these issues need to be solved, and our troops are doing this now," Russia’s top diplomat said.
The effort is underway now through a channel set up to prevent unintentional incidents between Russia’s Air Force and the US-led coalition, Lavrov said.