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Syrian govt sets terms for inquiry into gas attack

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Syria's past experience with international inquiries had not been encouraging. The government would only decide on the idea once its concerns were addressed, he said.

Syrian govt sets terms for inquiry into gas attack
The Syrian government set conditions on Thursday for any international inquiry into a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of people, saying it must not be "politicized" and should set out from Damascus and not Turkey.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Syria's past experience with international inquiries had not been encouraging. The government would only decide on the idea once its concerns were addressed, he said.

Moualem also reiterated the government's strong denial that it was behind the attack on Tuesday in Khan Sheikhoun in the northwestern province of Idlib, an area mostly controlled by rebel groups at the border with Turkey.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said President Bashar al-Assad's government had gone "beyond a red line" and said his attitude toward Syria and Assad had changed. But he gave no indication of how he would respond.

Moualem did not directly respond to questions about Trump's comments. But he said he recognized "the gravity" of recent US statements, and cited speculation US comments may have been a means of exercising diplomatic pressure at the United Nations.

Moualem, speaking at a news conference in Damascus, said the Syrian government's Russian allies had put forward ideas for the formation of a "non-politicized commission of inquiry".

"It must not be politicized, it must leave from Damascus and not Turkey. We have numerous questions about this subject. When we are certain these questions are addressed with convincing answers, we will give you our response," he said. Western states have accused the Syrian government of carrying out the chemical attack on Tuesday that killed at least 80 people including at least 20 children. Russia has said the deaths were caused by a gas leak from a depot where rebel groups were storing chemical weapons, after a Syrian air strike.

Moualem said a Syrian air strike had hit a store where the Nusra Front was storing chemical weapons.
Agencies

Agencies

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