In an AFP exclusive interview, President Bashar al-Assad denies the Syrian government’s involvement in the most recent sarin chemical attack in the small town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. In the chemical attack, experts believe that sarin gas or a sarin-like substance was used which killed over 80 men, women, and children. Assad was shown video evidence of the children struggling to breathe and take their last breaths but quickly dismissed it as being false. Assad asserts the accusations are false because he gave up his arsenal of chemical weapons in 2013 and even if Syria had them they would not use them.

Assad claims the chemical attack was nothing but propaganda or a “play” which was directed by the United States in order to carry out a military strike against Syria. To Assad, the short time frame of 48 hours between the chemical attack and the Tomahawk missile strike supports his theory that the attack was planned by the US to flex militarily. He believes the United States is working with the rebels.

Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists,” Assad told the news agency. “They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.”- Washington Post

In the interview, President Assad even goes on to say that Syria has never used chemical weapons in the history of Syria. Historically, Bashar and Hafez al-Assad have both used chemical weapons on Syrians and groups that threatened the Syrian government, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Editorial cartoon courtesy of Robert L. Lang