Syrian govt says any inquiry into gas attack must not be politicised

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the country's past experience with international inquiries had not been "encouraging".
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the country's past experience with international inquiries had not been "encouraging".PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT/MOSCOW (REUTERS, AFP) - The Syrian government set conditions on Thursday (April 6) for any international inquiry into a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of people in northwestern Syria, saying it must not be "politicised" and should start work from Damascus.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the country's past experience with international inquiries had not been"encouraging".

He indicated that the government would only consider the idea of an inquiry if its concerns were addressed.

Mr Moualem also reiterated the government's denial that it was behind the attack on Tuesday in Khan Sheikhoun.

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

Mr Moualem did not directly respond to questions about Trump's comments, but said he recognised "the gravity" of recent US statements.

Meanwhile in Moscow, the Kremlin on Thursday said US allegations that Syrian forces carried out a deadly chemical attack are not based on "objective" information.

"Any data that the American side or our colleagues in other countries could have cannot be based on objective materials or evidence," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that the incident in rebel-held Khan Sheikhun was a "monstruous crime."