Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack was a "fabrication" to justify a USA military strike, as Moscow digs in to defend its ally despite increasing strains with Washington.
"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. "They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack", Assad said.
The chemical attack prompted President Trump to order a missile strike at a Syrian military air base last week.
And after an April 4 suspected chemical attack killed at least 87 people, the defector has said the regime still has hundreds of tons of chemicals at hand.
Syria and Russian Federation have suggested a conventional airstrike by the Syrian army may have hit a depot storing chemical weapons possessed by extremists.
"You have a lot of fake videos now", Assad said.
World leaders had called for an worldwide probe into the attack in Khan Sheikhoun last week, which prompted a retaliatory U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase.
The pair said there would be "no impunity" for those responsible for the attack, which they said was "highly likely" to have been carried out by Bashar Assad's regime.
Publications including in the USA and the United Kingdom have highlighted "many inconsistencies" in the version of events in Syria's Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said. Putin's military backing of Assad has been crucial in keeping the regime in power after six years of civil war.
This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, shows victims of a suspected chemical attack, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The UN specifically debunked that last summer in a report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the task group assigned to investigate violations of worldwide accords on such munitions. We don't have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago.
The report comes one day after Russian Federation vetoed a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a speedy probe into the Khan Sheikhoun attack.
The further development of the situation in Syria as result of the United States strike became the main topic of the series of talks held in Moscow recently.
Even Assad's staunch ally, Russia, accepts that the deaths were caused by chemical weapons.
Chairperson of the OPCW executive council, Ambassador Odette Melono of Cameroon, in consultation with the Director-General of the OPCW Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, convened a meeting of the council to discuss these allegations, Xinhua news agency reported. Citing the importance of U.S. -Russia talks in Moscow on April 13, the foreign minister stressed that "this is an issue to the concern of all parties".
"We are confident in this process and we fully support it". The retaliatory strike was praised by many world leaders, while Russian Federation denounced it as an act of "aggression" and accused the USA of violating worldwide law.