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Syria's Assad says Idlib chemical attack a 'fabrication'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Syria's military gave up all its chemical weapons in 2013 after an agreement made at the time.

A Syrian child receives treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province on 4 April 2017. Picture: AFP

SYRIA - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said an alleged poison gas attack blamed on his government last week in Idlib province was "100% fabrication" used to justify a US air strike, news agency AFP reported on Thursday.

Syria's military had given up all its chemical weapons in 2013 after an agreement made at the time, and would not have used them anyway, AFP quoted Assad as saying in an interview.

The United States and its allies say the Syrian military carried out the Idlib attack, something Syria has already denied.

The 4 April attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people and prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in response, its first direct assault on the Assad government in the six-year-old conflict.

Map locating chemical attack in Syria, for which the regime is denying responsibility, and details about the chemical weapons already used in the conflict.

Assad said Syria would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the poison gas incident. On Wednesday Damascus ally Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn the attack and push the Syrian government to cooperate with investigators.

Russia said the gas was part of rebel stockpiles, which the rebels have denied.

It was the deadliest such incident since a sarin gas attack killed hundreds of people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus in 2013, prompting threats of US military action.

Samples taken from Khan Sheikhoun last week tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, the British delegation at the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW said on Thursday.

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