President Assad: We had nothing to do with chemical attack which killed 80 citizens

Tom Powell
Denial: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: REUTERS

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has claimed his government was not responsible for the chemical gas attack which killed more than 80 people in a rebel-held village last week.

He said allegations that his army had deliberately poisoned civilians were “100 per cent fabrication.”

In his first interview since the incident, the president said: "Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.”

Mr Assad added that the Syrian government gave up chemical weapons as part of a 2013 agreement, in the interview broadcast by AFP.

The incident in the village of Khan Sheikhoun has been condemned by the international community, with the US striking a Syrian airbase with missiles in retaliation.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll in the massacre in Idlib included 20 children.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mr Assad is behind the chemical attacks.

He said: “We have a big problem. We have somebody that is not doing the right thing. And that’s going to be my responsibility.

“But I’ll tell you, that responsibility could’ve made, been made, a lot easier if it was handled years ago.”

Mr Trump has told of how he told the Chinese President about ordering a missile strike in Syria while eating "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake".

The US President told a TV interviewer that he gave the order for a retaliatory strike while having dinner with President Xi Jinping at his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last week.

Asked how the Chinese President reacted to the news, Mr Trump said: "He paused for 10 seconds and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again. I didn't think that was a good sign.

"Then he said to me... 'Anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies - it's ok'. He was ok with it."