Russian Federation presses for Syria chemical attack investigation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused the USA of concocting reports of a gas attack on a rebel-held village last week to justify military strikes against his forces.

The meeting was called to discuss the April 4 attack on the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun that killed almost 90 people.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has denied the government's involvement in the Idlib incident, saying it had never used chemical weapons on either civilians or terrorists operating in the country and would never do so.

Lavrov on Friday accused the US and its allies of what he described as attempts to stymie an worldwide probe into the attack.

"Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists", Assad told the news agency.

Russia Friday pressed ahead Friday for an "objective" investigation of last week's deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria.

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"There was no order to make any attack, we don't have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago", he insisted.

Syria joined the OPCW in 2013 under severe worldwide pressure following a deadly chemical attack on a Damascus suburb.

Rycroft said "samples obtained from Khan Sheikhun" have "tested positive for the nerve agent sarin or a sarin-like substance".

Lavrov expressed skepticism about a preliminary investigation conducted by the UN's chemical weapons watchdog.

The Syrian government was supposed to have given up its entire chemical weapons stockpile under the terms of a 2013 deal brokered by Russian Federation and the United States.

Activists and monitoring groups have continued to record chemical weapons attacks on opposition-held areas.

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Turkish health officials on Tuesday said post-mortem tests on victims of the suspected attack had also concluded that the deadly sarin nerve agent had been used. The organization has not revealed any details, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the probe and the safety of OPCW staff.

On the USA airstrike on an Assad regime air base in retaliation for the chemical attack, Lavrov said, "We reiterated our common position that it was an act of aggression, a flagrant violation of the principles of worldwide law and the UN Charter".

"We are deeply anxious by our partners in the U.N. Security Council trying to evade an honest investigation into that episode", he said.

Moscow vetoed a Western draft United Nations resolution Wednesday, saying it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack.

Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.

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