Russia slams watchdog probe of alleged Syria chemical attack

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Assad also said Syria's military had given up all chemical weapons, AFP said on its Twitter account, quoting remarks in an interview with the Syrian president. It is the eighth time Russian Federation has cast a veto at the UN Security Council over the Syrian conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who hosted his Iranian and Syrian counterparts at a trilateral meeting in Moscow, denounced last week's USA attack on Syria as a "flagrant violation" of worldwide law and warned that any further such action would entail "grave consequences not only for regional but global security".

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

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack was a "fabrication" to justify a U.S. military strike, as Moscow digs in to defend its ally despite increasing strains with Washington.

The world s chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday that allegations a chemical attack took place in Khan Sheikhun were "credible".

Indeed it sits uneasily with the Russian version of events which says that a rebel warehouse was hit by a bomb from a Syrian warplane thus releasing the chemical agent. "We gave up our arsenal a few years ago", Assad said.

Assad disputed this, saying he did not know what reference point the USA was using to make that determination.

"On April 4, the lifeless bodies of innocent victims, grotesquely contorted and twisted by the nerve agent sarin, tell the real story", Ward continued.

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He added that "this outrage is abetted by Russia's continuing efforts to bury the truth and protect the Syrian regime" from consequences of using chemical weapons.

For his part, Muallem said that Syria has repeatedly declared that it does not possess chemical weapons, claiming that regime forces have not used them against "neither the terrorist nor the people".

The statement says "the two leaders agreed that the attack in question be investigated by the OPCW, which is an independent organization whose legitimacy is recognized".

The OPCW's Fact Finding Mission for Syria is conducting an investigation and is expected to report its findings in three weeks. The organization has not revealed any details, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the investigation and the safety of the organization's staff.

Moscow has warned against putting the blame on Damascus until an independent inquiry is conducted and vetoed a proposed United Nations resolution on the attack, saying it failed to mention the need to inspect the affected area.

In a joint press conference following the tripartite meeting held in Moscow April 14, the Syrian FM thanked his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for his invitation to visit Moscow after the United States aggression against Syria, extending gratitude to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for attending the meeting which conveys a firm message after the attack, APA's Moscow correspondent reported.

Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.