Chemical attack 'fabricated' as 'pretext' to justify US strike: Assad

Damascus [Syria], April 13 (ANI): Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed Thursday that the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun was a "fabrication" to justify the U.S. missile strike.

Acoording to media reports Assad said in an interview, his first since the alleged April 4 attack prompted a US air strike on Syrian forces, "Definitely, 100 percent for us, it's fabrication. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack."

He added that the Syrian army had given up all its chemical weapons and that Syrian military power was not affected by the U.S. strike.

The suspected chemical attack killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage.

Syria denied any use of chemical weapons and Russia backed its claim saying said the deaths had been the result of a conventional strike hitting a rebel arms depot containing "toxic substances".

In the interview, Assad insisted it was "not clear" whether an attack on Khan Sheikhun had even happened and questioned the authenticity of the videos being circulated online.

"You have a lot of fake videos now. We don't know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun. Were they dead at all?," he said.

Denouncing the chemical attack, President Donald Trump ordered a strike that saw 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles destroy the airbase in central Syria.

It was the first direct US military action against Assad's forces since the start of Syria's civil war six years ago and led to a quick downward spiral in ties between Washington and Moscow.

Russia accused the United States of breaking international law with the strike against the Syrian regime, a key ally that Moscow has supported with air strikes since 2015. (ANI)