Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack was a “fabrication” to justify a US strike, in an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus.
President Assad added that the firepower of the Syrian army had not been affected by the attack ordered by US President Donald Trump, but acknowledged further strikes were possible.
The Syrian leader reiterated his forces had turned over all their chemical weapons stocks years ago and would never use the banned arms.
“Definitely, 100 percent for us, Khan Shaikhoun’s attack is fabrication,” he said of the incident.
“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,” added Assad, who has been in power for 17 years.
“This story is not convincing by any means.”
He insisted several times that his forces had turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, under a deal brokered by Russia to avoid threatened US military action.
“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.
“Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.”
President Assad said more US attacks “could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria.”
But he said his forces had not been diminished by the US strike.
“Our firepower, our ability to attack the terrorists hasn’t been affected by this strike.”