President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to AFP in which he said what happened in Khan Shaikhoun is a fabricated story, stressing that Syria does not possess a chemical arsenal.

He made it clear that Syria can only allow any investigation in the Khan Sheikhoun incident when it’s impartial. He said that the United States is not serious in achieving any political solution. He stressed that Syria’s firepower and ability to attack terrorists hasn’t been affected by this strike.

Following is the first part of the interview which we have chosen from globalresearch.org.

Question 1: Mr. President, did you give an order to strike Khan Sheikhoun with chemical weapons?

President Assad: Actually, no-one has investigated what happened that day in Khan Sheikhoun till the moment. As you know, Khan Sheikhoun is under the control of al-Nusra Front, which is a branch of Al Qaeda, so the only information the world have had till this moment is published by Al Qaeda branch. No-one has any other information. We don’t know if the whole pictures or videos that we’ve been seeing are true or fabricated. That’s why we asked for an investigation to what happened in Khan Sheikhoun. This is first.

Second, Al Qaeda sources said that the attack happened at 6 or 6:30 in the morning, while the Syrian attack in the same area was around noon, between 11:30 to 12. So, they’re talking about two different stories or events. So, there was no order to make any attack, we don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago. Even if we had them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.

Question 2: So what happened this day?

President Assad: As I said, the only source is Al Qaeda, we cannot take it seriously. But our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack. It wasn’t an attack because of what happened in Khan Sheikhoun. It’s one event. Its stage one is the play that we saw on the social networking and on TVs, and the propaganda, and the stage two is the military attack. That’s what we believe is happening because it’s only few days – two days, 48 hours – between the play and the attacks, and no investigations, no concrete evidence about anything, the only thing were allegations and propaganda, and then strike.

Question 3: So, who is responsible for this alleged chemical attack?

President Assad: The allegation itself was by Al Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, so we don’t have to investigate who, they announced it, it’s under their control, no-one else. About the attack, as I said, it’s not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake, like the White Helmets for example, they are Al Qaeda, they are al-Nusra Front who shaved their beards, wore white hats, and appeared as humanitarian heroes, which is not the case. The same people were killing Syrian soldiers, and you have the proof on the internet anyway. So, the same thing for that chemical attack, we don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun? Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was an attack? What’s the material? You have no information at all, nothing at all, no-one investigated.

Question 4: So you think it’s a fabrication?

President Assad: Definitely, a hundred percent for us. It’s fabrication. We don’t have an arsenal. We’re not going to use it. And you have many indications if you don’t have proof, because no-one has concrete information or evidences, but you have indications. For example, around ten days before that attack, the terrorists were advancing in many fronts, including the suburbs of Damascus and Hama which is not far from Khan Sheikhoun, let’s suppose we have this arsenal, and let’s suppose that we have the will to use it, why didn’t we use it when we were retreating and the terrorists were advancing? Actually, the timing of that attack or alleged attack was when the Syrian Army was advancing very fast, and actually the terrorists were collapsing. So, why to use it, if you have it and if you have the will, why to use it at that timing, not when you were in a difficult situation, logically? This is first.

Second, if you have it and if you want to use it – again, this is if we suppose – why to use it against civilians, not to use it against the terrorists that we are fighting? Third, in that area, we don’t have army, we don’t have battles, we don’t have any, let’s say, object in Khan Sheikhoun, and it’s not a strategic area. Why to attack it? What’s the reason? Militarily, I’m talking from a military point of view. Of course, the foundation for us, morally, we wouldn’t do it if we have it, we wouldn’t have the will, because morally this is not acceptable. We won’t have the support of the public. So, every indication is against the whole story, so you can say that this play that they staged doesn’t hold together. The story is not convincing by any means.

Question 5: With the US airstrike, Trump seems to have changed his position on you and Syria drastically. Do you have the feeling that you lost what you have called a potential partner?

President Assad: I said “if”. It was conditional. If they are serious in fighting terrorists, we’re going to be partners, and I said not only the US; whoever wants to fight the terrorists, we are partners. This is basic for us, basic principle, let’s say. Actually, what has been proven recently, as I said earlier, that they are hand in glove with those terrorists, the US and the West, they’re not serious in fighting terrorists, and yesterday some of their statesmen were defending Daesh. They were saying that Daesh doesn’t have chemical weapons. They are defending Daesh against the Syrian government and the Syrian Army. So, actually, you cannot talk about partnership between us who work against the terrorists and who fight the terrorism and the others who are supporting explicitly the terrorists.

Question 6: So, can we say that the US strike changed your opinion on Trump?

President Assad: Anyway, I was very cautious in saying any opinion regarding him before he became President and after. I always say let’s see what he’s going to do, we wouldn’t comment on statements. So, actually, this is the first proof that it’s not about the President in the US; it’s about the regime and the deep state or the deep regime in the US is still the same, it doesn’t change. The President is only one of the performers on their theatre, if he wants to be a leader, he cannot, because as some say he wanted to be a leader, Trump wanted to be a leader, but every President there, if he wants to be a real leader, later he’s going to eat his words, swallow his pride if he has pride at all, and make a 180 degree U-turn, otherwise he would pay the price politically.

Question 7: But do you think that there will be another attack?

President Assad: As long as the United States is being governed by this military industrial complex, the financial companies, banks, and what you call deep regime, and works for the vested interest of those groups, of course. It could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria.

Question 8: And, your army or the Russians will retaliate if it happens again?

President Assad: Actually, if you want to talk about retaliation, we are talking about missiles coming from hundreds of miles, which is out of our reach, but actually the real war in Syria is not about those missiles; it’s about supporting the terrorists. This is the most dangerous part of this war, and our response is going to be what we started from the very first day: is smashing the terrorists everywhere in Syria. When we get rid of the terrorists, we wouldn’t worry about anything else at that time. So, this is our response. It’s a response, not reaction.

Question 9: So, what you say means that retaliation by the Syrian Army or by the Russians will be very difficult, because the boats are very far?

President Assad: For us, as a small country, yeah, of course it is, everybody knows that. It’s out of reach. I mean, they can have missiles from another continent. We all know that. Talking about the Russians, this is another issue.

Question 10: Would you accept the findings of OPCW investigation?

President Assad: Since the very first time, when we had in 2013, I think, the first attacks by the terrorists on the Syrian Army by chemical missiles at that time, we asked for investigation. We were the ones who asked for investigations every time there were chemical attacks or allegations about chemical attacks. We asked. And this time, we were discussing with the Russians and during the few days after the strike that we’re going to work with them on international investigation. But it should be impartial. We can only allow any investigation when it’s impartial, when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won’t use it for politicized purposes.

Question 11: And, if they accuse the government, would you step down?

President Assad: If they accuse, or if they prove? There’s a big difference. No, they are already accusing the government, and if you mean by “them” the West, no, we don’t care about the West. If you mean the chemical agency, if they can prove that there’s an attack, we have to investigate who gave the order to that attack. But a hundred percent, as Syrian Army, we don’t have, and we cannot – even if we want, we cannot – we don’t have the means to commit such attack, and we don’t have the will.

Question 12: So, you mean that you don’t have chemical weapons?

President Assad: No, no, definitely, a few years ago, in 2013, we gave up all our arsenal, and the chemical agency announced that Syria is free of any chemical materials.

Question 13: Because the Pentagon said that there are chemical weapons in the airbase, you deny it?

President Assad: They attacked that airbase, and they destroyed the depots of different materials, and there was no sarin gas. How? If they said that we launched the sarin attack from that airbase, what happened to the sarin when they attacked the depots? Did we hear about any sarin? Our Chief of Staff was there a few hours later, how could he go there if there was sarin gas? How could you only have six martyrs if you have hundreds of soldiers and officers working there, but there was sarin, and they didn’t die. The same fabricated videos that we’ve been seeing about Khan Sheikhoun, when the rescuers tried to rescue the victims or the supposedly dead people or inflicted people, but actually they weren’t wearing any masks or any gloves. How? Where’s the sarin? They should be affected, right away. So, this is all allegation. I mean, this attack and these allegations is another proof that it was fabricated and there was no sarin anywhere.

RM/ME

Apr 19, 2017 10:13 UTC
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