US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack

Western leaders including US President Donald Trump have accused Assad of being behind last week's attack in the rebel-held town Khan Sheikhun, saying his forces unleashed a chemical weapon during an air strike. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said it is gathering evidence about the attack but can not comment on an ongoing investigation.

The Syrian regime and its backers, including Russian Federation, have denied Mr Assad was responsible. Speaking to the Catholic News Service in an interview, Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan labeled the strike as an aggression and suggested that the us should have waited for the United Nations to finish an investigation into the origin of the chemical attack.

"Definitely, 100 percent for us, it is fabrication".

But Assad said evidence came only from "a branch of Al- Qaeda", referring to a former jihadist affiliate that is among the groups that control Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located.

Civil defence members and medics on the ground in Syria told MEE that they are preparing for further chemical attacks by their government and are desperately seeking to secure gas masks for as many civilians as possible. Syria "continues to possess and use chemical weapons".

"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.
"They want to use it as an umbrella for the terrorists", said the Syrian president.




Samples taken from Khan Sheikhoun last week tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, the British delegation t the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW said on Thursday. The organization has not revealed any details, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the probe and the safety of OPCW staff.

At least 87 people including 31 children died in the suspected attack that the West blames on Syria President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Daesh is facing twin offensives by Iraqi forces on the city of Mosul and by an Arab-Kurdish alliance on its de facto Syrian capital Raqqa, backed by a US-led coalition that launched air strikes against the extremists in 2014.

"If they are serious in fighting terrorists, we will be partners".

Lavrov said he emphasized the need for a wide-ranging OPCW probe during Wednesday's talks in Moscow with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, suggesting that Western nations, Russian Federation and some regional powers could dispatch additional experts to join the investigation.

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