Assad says chemical weapons claims ‘insult to common sense’

Syrians wave a flag with an image of Assad during a rally in his support in Damascus. (AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Western claims his regime used chemical weapons were “nonsense,” warning that the United States “faced failure” if it attacked Syria, in comments to Russian newspaper Izvestia published on Monday.

“The comments (accusing the regime of using chemical weapons) made by politicians in the West and other countries are an insult to common sense... It is nonsense,” Assad said, dismissing the claims as politically motivated.

He added: “The United States faces failure (if it attacks Syria), just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to our days.”

Calling for caution 

China called for a "cautious" approach to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis on Monday.

"All parties should handle the chemical weapons issue cautiously to avoid interfering in the overall direction of solving the Syria issue through political settlement," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement on the ministry's website, according to AFP.

Beijing backed a U.N. investigation to "find out the truth as soon as possible", he said.

Wang made the comments as the West mulled possible military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.


Russia concerned

Russia, in similar comments made by Iran, voiced concerns on Monday over the possibility Washington may respond militarily to a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syria’s government.

“The minister (Lavrov) stressed that the official announcements from Washington in recent days about the readiness of U.S. armed forces to ‘intervene’ in the Syrian conflict have been received in Moscow with deep concern,” Reuters news agency reported the foreign ministry as saying in a statement.

Lavrov also warned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the "extremely dangerous consequences" of launching military action against the Syrian regime.

"Sergei Lavrov drew attention to the extremely dangerous consequences of a possible new military intervention for the whole Middle East and North Africa region," it said in a statement.

Syria’s opposition says more than 1,300 people died when regime forces unleashed chemical weapons against rebel-held towns east and southwest of Damascus Wednesday, while Doctors Without Borders said 355 people had died of “neurotoxic” symptoms.

The Syrian government has strongly denied it carried out such an attack, instead blaming opposition fighters.

Infographic: Chemical weapons claims

Infographic: Chemical weapons claims (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)

Infographic: Chemical weapons claims (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)

Assad's closest ally Iran said on Sunday the United States should not cross a "red line" by attacking Syria.

Two and a half years since the start of a war that has already killed more than 100,000 people, the United States an dits allies have yet to take direct action, despite long ago saying Assad must be removed from power.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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