Syria's president: OPCW 'faked' report on chlorine gas attack

'We were right, they were wrong,' says Bashar al-Assad after chemical weapon watchdog laid blame on alleged gas attack.

    President Bashar al-Assad visits Syrian army troops in northwest Idlib province in October [SANA via Reuters]
    President Bashar al-Assad visits Syrian army troops in northwest Idlib province in October [SANA via Reuters]

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the global chemical weapons watchdog of faking and falsifying a report over an attack near the capital Damascus last year "just because the Americans wanted them to do so".

    Al-Assad's comments in an interview broadcast on Monday with Italy's Rai News 24 came after the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) expressed confidence in the report into the deadly attack in Syria.

    OPCW's chief Fernando Arias supported the report issued in March by a fact-finding mission from the watchdog that found "reasonable grounds" that chlorine was used in the attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Douma.

    Arias said the Douma attack, which killed dozens, was among nine incidents being investigated by a new attribution mechanism set up by the OPCW called the Investigation and Identification Team.

    The mission was not mandated to attribute blame for the attack, but the United States, the United Kingdom, and France blamed Syria and launched punitive air raids. Syria denied responsibility.

    Al-Assad spoke after a letter purportedly written by a member of the OPCW team released by WikiLeaks called its conclusions biased.

    "That's what the OPCW organisation did - they faked and falsified the report, just because the Americans wanted them to do so," al-Assad said, speaking in English.

    "So, fortunately, this report proved that everything we said during the last few years, since 2013, is correct," the Syrian president added.

    "We were right, they were wrong. This is proof, this is concrete proof regarding this issue," al-Assad said about the leaks.

    "Again, the OPCW is biased, is being politicised and is being immoral."

    The chemical weapon watchdog's chief, Arias, said two weeks ago the report was written following careful consideration of all information. He added he stood by the "impartial and professional conclusions reached by the fact-minding mission".

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    SOURCE: Reuters news agency