Syrian gov't denies using chemical weapons against rebels

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-08 23:48:25|Editor: Liu
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DAMASCUS, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government on Friday denied using chemical weapons in attacks against rebels, including an alleged incident in April in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

The government said it wasn't behind the April's chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib when 80 civilians were reported to have been killed.

"Syria didn't will not use chemical weapons because it doesn't even possess such weapons," SANA said.

The new denial comes against the backdrop of a report released by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria on Wednesday when the UN war investigators said the government forces in Syria were behind the April sarin attack.

"These attacks constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and the Convention on Chemical Weapons, which the Syrian Arab Republic ratified in 2013 following a previous sarin attack," the UN commission said.

The Syrian government said the report is politicized and aimed to affect the work of the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In August, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the government would provide help for the international fact-finding mission tasked to probe the chemical attack allegations.

A fact-finding mission from the OPCW was supposed to come within a few days after Mekdad's remarks on Aug. 17.

However, no information was ever revealed about the advent of the OPCW investigators, who previously confirmed the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, but stopped short of identifying the perpetrator.

In April, the opposition activists accused the government warplanes of dropping sarin, an odorless gas, on the town.

The Syrian government denied carrying out a chemical attack, saying its warplanes struck an arms depot of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which controls much of Idlib.

On April 7, the U.S. carried out a unilateral action by striking the Shairat Air Base in central Syria, saying the warplanes that struck Khan Sheikhoun flew from the base.