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Moscow Shrugs Off Washington’s ‘Solid Evidence’ on Syria Chemical Attack | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A man breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

Khan Sheikhoun, Syria – The United States is desperately preventing international expert visits to al-Shayrat Syrian airbase that it had attacked with cruise missiles in April, the Russian foreign ministry said Thursday.

The attack came after the US accused the Syrian regime of using the deadly sarin gas in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Washington’s announcement that it has evidence over Bashar Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun is baseless, the Russian foreign ministry’s nonproliferation department chief Mikhail Uliyanov was quoted as saying.

His comments came in response to claims made by CIA Director Mike Pompeo that the US possesses “solid evidence” on the Syrian army’s involvement in the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikoun that killed at least 87 people, including children.

On Wednesday, relatives of the victims gathered in a semi-circle at the reported site of the attack, holding up pictures of their loved ones — many of them toddlers. 

“The pain of separation has not left me for a single second — not me, nor any of those who lost a relative or loved one,” Abdulhamid Youssef, 28, told Agence France Presse.

His twin toddlers, his wife and 19 other relatives died on April 4. 

A heartbreaking picture of Youssef, shellshocked and holding the lifeless bodies of his children on the day of the attack, sparked worldwide outrage. 

“All I hope for is that my children are the last ones who will be killed. Pain is hard. Separation is hard. I hope that this is the conclusion of Syria’s sorrows,” he told AFP.

He visited his children’s graves as dusk fell, pulling out weeds from around their simple markers. 

The United Nations’ chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, concluded last month that sarin was used as a chemical weapon in Khan Sheikhoun.

An joint OPCW-UN team will now be responsible for determining who carried out the attack.

“I had hoped that the pain would disappear with the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and an end to the violence in Syria,” Youssef told AFP.