Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed on Tuesday any suggestion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were behind a chemical attack that killed scores of people in Idlib province in April.
“According to our information, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad. We are convinced that he didn’t do it,” Putin told daily newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.
The remarks came a day after new French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country’s intelligence services in April blamed Assad for the Idlib attack, said the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a red line for Paris and would result in reprisals.
Putin said he had offered to arrange inspections of the site in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, but that all the major powers had refused. He said the objective of the allegations had been to discredit Assad and put pressure on him.
It was a way of “explaining to the international community why it was necessary to continue to impose measures to pressure Assad, including militarily,” Putin said.