Syrian foreign minister denies use of chemical weapons
The Syrian foreign minister is categorically denying his government used chemical weapons in the attack this week in Idlib province or in any other attack.
Walid Moallem told reporters at a press conference in Damascus on Thursday that "the Syrian Arab Army has never used chemical weapons and will not use chemical weapons against Syrians and even against terrorists."
He says the Syrian army bombed a warehouse for al-Qaida's branch in Syria that contained chemical weapons, echoing the Russian defense ministry's claim.
He denounced the "chorus" of accusations against Syria, which he says was launched by countries known for their hostility.
Moallem also says Israel is the "main beneficiary" of these accusations.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin says differences with Washington over the use of chemical weapons in Syria are unlikely to worsen U.S.-Russia relations.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned the West on Thursday against rushing to blame Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria.
He says the West lacks objective evidence against Assad, and materials presented by Syrian activist White Helmets first-responder team cannot serve as a proof.
Peskov says that Russia believes "that the use of chemical weapons is absolutely inadmissible." He added that the Syrian army must act to "prevent any chemical agents that can be used as weapons from falling into the terrorists' hands."
The Russian Defense Ministry has claimed that residents of Khan Sheikhoun have been exposed to chemicals contained in rebels' chemical arsenal struck in a Syrian air raid.