Syria says claims it uses chemical weapons "lies"

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Syrian government may still be using chemical weapons, following a suspected chlorine attack in the rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta on Monday.

FILE: A Syrian man receives treatment at a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on 4 April 2017. Picture: AFP

BEIRUT - The Syrian government said on Wednesday that claims by France and the United States that it was still using chemical weapons were “lies”.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Syrian government may still be using chemical weapons, following a suspected chlorine attack in the rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta on Monday.

In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, Syria’s foreign ministry said such claims were aimed at “obstructing any effort towards finding a way out of the crisis in Syria”.

In 2013, Syria said it would give up all of its chemical weapons.

In the past two years, a joint UN and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin and several times used chlorine as a weapon.

The Syrian army and government have consistently denied using chlorine or other chemical weapons during the war, now in its seventh year.

“Syria has always shown cooperation and provided the conditions necessary for an impartial, objective and professional investigation into the use of chemical weapons,” SANA said, adding that “the West” had hindered this process for political aims.