Syria: Chemical weapons claims are 'barefaced lie'

Syrian information minister says accusations made by US, UK that the Assad regime used chemical weapons are "inconsistent with reality"; accuses the US of trying to "cover those who are really behind use of chemical weapons."

April 27, 2013 18:02
2 minute read.
Residents move a Syrian Army soldier, wounded in apparent chemical weapon attack, March 19, 2013.

Syrian soldier injured in alleged chemical weapon attack 360. (photo credit: REUTERS/George Ourfalian)

Accusations from the US and the UK that Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons are a "barefaced lie," Syria's information minister told Russian television channel RT on Saturday.

Omran al-Zouabi said statements made by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and members of the British government were "inconsistent with reality."

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He added that it was the Assad regime that made an official request to the UN to investigate the reported use of chemical weapons in Aleppo, which "proves once again that the whole policy of the Syrian government is targeted against use of any kind of weapons of mass destruction by anybody: terrorists, Israel or any other neighboring state."

He accused the US of involvement in favor of the opposition to Assad, the Syrian National Coalition. "The US is concealing that Qatar is financing terrorists, supply weapons to them," he said.

Zouabi maintained that the US is trying to "cover those who are really behind use of chemical weapons" and "to repeat Iraq’s scenario, to pave the way for other investigation inspections."

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He also accused the US of fabricating maps and photos of rockets to show as proof to the UN in order to justify their interference.

There have been three alleged chemical weapons attacks - the one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and one in Homs in December. The rebels and Assad's government blame each other for all of them.

American and British experts, sent by the UN to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons, are biased, Zouabi claimed. “We do not trust the American and British experts from a political point of view,” Zouabi said, claiming the Americans and Britons aim to "juggle with facts."

He added that Syria prefers Russian experts, whose "high qualification and ability to clearly see into such matters" Damascus was sure of.

The Syrian government is only willing to allow the UN to investigate what it claims was a rebel chemical attack near Aleppo last month. The opposition has blamed Assad's forces for that strike and also wants the UN team to look into other alleged chemical attacks by the government.

The UN team of investigators has been put on standby in Cyprus for three weeks due to the Assad regime's refusal to allow them access into the war-torn country.

Also on Saturday, Syrian state news agency quoted Zoubi as saying the chemical weapons used by the rebels in Aleppo were probably from Turkey. He said the missile was launched from a rebel-held area, not far from the Syrian-Turkish border.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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