Russia vetoes UN resolution on Syria; Assad calls chemical attack a U.S. ‘fabrication’

by WorldTribune Staff, April 13, 2017

In vetoing a draft resolution condemning Syria for the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Russia “said no” to resolving the Syrian conflict, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said.

“Today’s vote could have been a turning point,” Haley said on April 12. “Once more, this vote could have been the moment when Russia saw that its interests do not lie with a murderous dictator, but rather with the many countries in the international community, including those across the Middle East, that want to end this conflict.”

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses the UN Security Council after a vote on a resolution condemning Syria’s use of chemical weapons was vetoed by Russia on April 12. /AP

Haley pointed out that even China, which has typically voted with Russia on similar resolutions, decided not to block the measure this time.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said on April 13 that the United States “fabricated” the chemical weapons attack as an excuse to launch missile strikes on Syria.

“Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists,” Assad told AFP, referring to rebels who control the Khan Sheikhoun area. “They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.”

In his first interview since the sarin gas attack, which left 86 dead and hundreds injured, Assad said his regime could not be responsible as it is no longer in possession of any chemical weapons.

“There was no order to make any attack… We gave up our arsenal a few years ago. Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them,” Assad said.

Assad also questioned video footage showing child victims of the attack, images which played a huge role in U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to launch missile strikes on a Syrian airbase.

Assad told AFP: “We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun. Were they dead at all?”

The Syrian government and Russia claim the Khan Sheikhoun victims were killed by toxic agents released from a rebel chemical depot that was hit by Syrian warplanes.

An American official countered that claim, saying U.S. intelligence had intercepted communications from members of the Assad regime and its chemical experts talking about preparations for the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun.

Meanwhile, a British delegation at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) finished testing on samples from victims of the attack who had been treated in Turkey.

They said on April 13 that the victims tested positive for the nerve agent sarin or a “sarin-like substance.”