Syria's Assad says Idlib chemical attack 'fabrication': AFP interview

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On April 4, a reported toxic gas attack hit the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib, killing over 80 people and wounding scores of others.

Medical examiners in Turkey, where numerous Khan Sheikhoun victims were taken, have said that autopsies showed they had been attacked with sarin, a lethal nerve agent and a banned chemical weapon that Syria had claimed to have eradicated.

Assad accused the West, particularly the United States, of being "hand-in-glove with the terrorists" over the Khan Sheikhoun incident.

Asked if airstrikes by Syrian troops could have struck a terrorist chemical weapons depot, Assad declined to speculate, saying it was often hard to know the details about targets from aerial pictures.

The intercepts were part of a review of all the intelligence right after the attack to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in the attack in north-western Syria, which killed at least 70 people, CNN reports.

Assad denied having chemical weapons and said Syria would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the incident.

Russia, a close ally of Syria, on Wednesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which sought to condemn the killings and call on the Assad regime to cooperate with an worldwide investigation into the attack.

Turkish health officials on Tuesday said postmortem tests on victims of the suspected attack had also concluded that the deadly sarin nerve agent had been used.

"Apart from anything else, we believe it's only the regime that has the capability to make such an attack".

Mr Assad made the comments in an interview broadcast by AFP, his first since the United States struck a Syrian airbase with missiles in retaliation for the events in Idlib province.

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the chemical attack in Syria was one that "shocks the soul". USA intelligence officials told CNN they have intercepted communications of Syrian military experts planning the attack days prior.

The Syrian army meanwhile issued a statement saying that the US -led coalition attacked a position of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, killing hundreds of fighters and civilians, many of them from poisonous gas. The delegation's mission is to unequivocally confirm whether or not chemical weapons were utilized without blaming any specific entity.

The Catholic leaders lamented that the strikes were carried out before an investigation of the alleged chemical attack was completed.

He added that "morally" the Syrian government would never do this "because it's not acceptable".

"Years of attacks on civilians, conducted with impunity, have brought us to this moment".

The report says the US relied on "signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting".

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which include Arab fighters, say they are working to clear Islamic State militants out of the Jalab Valley, north of Raqqa, a city held by the extremists with an estimated population of 300,000.

Then there is the detailed narrative, provided by the Americans who tracked the aircraft they say launched the attack, from its base, to the target location, and then home again.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the veto "puts Russian Federation on the wrong side of the argument", while French President Francois Hollande warned Russian Federation it "bears a heavy responsibility" for continuing to protect Assad.

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