Chemical attack fabricated, says Assad

Does this mean that the United States has changed tack on demanding regime change in Syria?

The Pentagon says it alerted Russia ahead of the action, using a "deconfliction" hotline established to minimize the possibility of incidents in Syrian airspace, where Russian warplanes and those of the US -led anti-ISIS coalition are flying.

"The use of chemical weapons is not only an affront to all of humanity, but it also violates long-standing prohibitions against the use of these weapons as well as the 2013 agreement by the Syrian government to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpiles and manufacturing capability".

But Assad doubled down on his denials in the interview with AFP, conducted on Wednesday and published on Thursday. Severe restrictions were placed on the news agency.

Ward was also fiercely critical of a major Assad ally: the "outrage is abetted by Russia's continuing efforts to bury the truth and protect the Syrian regime", he said. Only footage of first five questions asked by the interviewer was provided to AFP.

"There was no order to make any attack, we don't have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago", Assad said.

Syria and Russian Federation have suggested a conventional airstrike by the Syrian army may have hit a depot storing chemical weapons possessed by extremists.

The official also told CNN that while the intelligence was the basis for the us missile strike near Homs, the USA did not have any prior intelligence indicating that Assad was planning to carry out a chemical attack.

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A senior Russian diplomat says the United States and Russia are again exchanging information on a hotline created to prevent midair incidents over Syria, but that the formal agreement on such exchanges has not been renewed.

Accusing the USA of working "hand-in-glove with the terrorists", he charged during an interview with Agence France Presse that "they fabricated the whole story in order to have pretext for the [missile] attack".

The resulting haze of uncertainty around numerous war's events, and suspicion that Assad's forces have also kidnapped foreign reporters, has dovetailed perfectly with his government's strategy of claiming that all evidence of brutality by its forces is fake.

"Some of their statements were defending ISIS".

"They say still that it is not very safe, but they can not put forward convincing arguments", Russia's top diplomat said.

Meanwhile, Iran and Russian Federation have formed an alliance in the fight against terrorists, with both supporting the Damascus government against foreign-backed militancy. "Whoever wants to fight the terrorists, we are partners".

Gen Sakat told the Telegraph: "They [the regime] admitted only to 1,300 tonnes, but we knew in reality they had almost double that".

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