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Assad Maneuvers to Turn the ‘Chemical Table’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Victims’ families are hoping for answers after last week’s chemical attack by the regime on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, to the south of Idlib, in Syria. (Reuters)

Beirut, Ankara – As Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), along with members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), were expected in Turkey on Thursday as part of their inquiry into the chemical attack that hit the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun last week, the regime of Bashar Assad sought to maneuver and turn the table by accusing the “International Coalition” of killing a large number of civilians in an airstrike on a village east the city of Deir Ezzor two days ago.

Directly following Assad’s comments, the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS denied the regime’s allegations and asserted that it did not launch any strike on Deir Ezzor at that mentioned time.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it has no information about the strike.

Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Sure, coalition forces launched airstrikes on Deir Ezzor, but we have no information about the killing of tens or hundreds of people, as the regime is claiming.”

OPCW said on Thursday that a primary assessment conducted by its experts confirms that a chemical attack took place in Khan Sheikhoun.

Assad however said an alleged poison gas attack blamed on his government last week in Idlib province was “100 percent fabrication” and was used to justify a US air strike later that week.

In an interview with AFP, Assad said Syria’s regime had given up all its chemical weapons in 2013 after an agreement made at the time and would not have used them anyway.

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