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Coalition air strike kills 18 US-backed fighters in Syria

Coalition air strike kills 18 US-backed fighters in Syria

The U.S. military says a misdirected airstrike this week killed 18 allied fighters battling the Islamic State group in northern Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed reports of last week's chemical attack as "100% fabrication", an assertion contradicted by numerous eyewitness accounts and independent analysis.

Asked if he had ordered the chemical weapons attack, Assad said the Syrian military had no chemical weapons and that it would not use them if it did.

Denying any involvement whatsoever, the Syrian leader said: "A hundred percent for us, it's fabrication".

"Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists", he said.

Bunkered in the Shaab Palace, Assad gave an interview with AFP which beggared belief, claiming that the sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhun was "fabricated" and conducted by fighters who had "shaved off their beards".

Since late 2012, there have been some 64 alleged attacks, employing various toxic chemicals, ranging from chlorine to sarin gas.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency says security force have arrested one of the most wanted men involved in "terrorism" and in backing al-Qaida's branch in Syria. "We condemn any use of chemical weapons", said the Syrian top diplomat.

At least 87 people, including 31 children, were killed in the attack, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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"You have a lot of fake videos now", Assad said. "We don't know whether the dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun, were they dead at all?" he said. "And we suspect that they have help", a U.S. military official said on April 7. Assad has consistently beat back the rebels by using chemical weapons and terrorizing his own people because he didn't fear any nation calling his hand.

U.S. military officials said they observed a drone flying over a hospital in Khan Sheikoun that was providing treatment for gas victims.

The British delegation tweet says that Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu told Thursday's hastily convened meeting of its executive council that the "Fact Finding Mission is working to gather evidence" about the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhoun that killed almost 90 people.

Russian Federation on Friday criticised the world's chemical weapons watchdog for not sending experts to the site of an alleged chemical attack in Syria, backing up President Bashar Assad's regime.

He insisted several times that his forces had turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, under a deal brokered by Russian Federation to avoid threatened United States military action. Assad referred to the aftermath of the attack seen on social media and in the news as a "play". Tomorrow's Russia? We can hope. The two nations agree a 2015 cease-fire in Ukraine should be fulfilled, and are "committed" to finding a way to "avoid confrontation" in North Korea, Lavrov said.

Trump's optimistic prognosis followed his declaration Wednesday that U.S. -Russia relations "may be at an all-time low", and that "right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all".

Lucian reports that Lavrov went into talks with Tillerson early Wednesday "warning that the USA not repeat strikes against Syrian government forces".

The Kremlin has been anxious to restart relations with Washington that were largely frozen after the annexation of Crimea three years ago, Lucian notes. And although the agreement with Russian Federation led in August 2014 to the destruction of more than 600 metric tons of chemical agents, Assad and his allies carried out some 20 chemical attacks on the Aleppo, Idlib, and Rif Damascus governorates between July 2014 and the end of Obama's presidency.

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