DEADLY SARIN GAS AT­TACK Syr­i­ans say watch­dog chem­i­cal re­port “sick”

As­sad regime claims in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lied on ter­ror­ist tes­ti­mony, lacked cred­i­bil­ity

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Sarah el Deeb

BEIRUT» Syria’s gov­ern­ment on Satur­day ac­cused the in­ter­na­tional chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog of re­ly­ing on the tes­ti­monies of “ter­ror­ists” in its probe that con­cluded sarin gas was used in a deadly at­tack in Syria two months ago.

The Syr­ian For­eign Min­istry in a state­ment also lashed out at the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons, say­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been sub­jected to po­lit­i­cal ex­tor­tion, cost­ing the agency its cred­i­bil­ity and im­par­tial­ity. The min­istry called its find­ings “the cre­ation of a sick mind.”

While the OPCW didn’t ap­por­tion blame, the U.S., the U.K. and Syr­ian ac­tivists have held the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­ble for the April 4 on Khan Sheikhoun in the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled Idlib prov­ince. More than 90 peo­ple, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, were killed, spark­ing out­rage around the world as pho­tos and video of the af­ter­math, which in­cluded quiv­er­ing chil­dren dy­ing on cam­era, were widely broad­cast.

The U.S. launched a puni­tive strike against the Syr­ian mil­i­tary days after the at­tack. Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad and his main backer Russia have de­nied the use of chem­i­cal weapons, ac­cus­ing the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion of launch­ing the at­tacks.

The Syr­ian for­eign min­istry said the OPCW had de­clined to visit Khan Sheikhoun or the base from which the al­leged at­tack was pur­port­edly launched. It said the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment was pre­pared to co­op­er­ate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“The re­port comes up with a fab­ri­cated and ex­ag­ger­ated story that has no cred­i­bil­ity and can’t be ac­cepted in any way be­cause it is il­log­i­cal and is the cre­ation of a sick mind,” the min­istry’s state­ment said.

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