Russia says child witness shows Douma attack 'staged'

Russia claims an 11-year-old boy was made to pose as a victim of chemical weapons in Syria. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia said on Thursday (April 19) it would screen at the United Nations an interview with a child who it claims was made to pose as a victim of chemical weapons in Syria.

Moscow said the video supports its allegation that an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma was a hoax.

Russian state television on Wednesday aired the conversation with the child, whom it identified as an 11-year-old Syrian boy called Hassan Diab.

Russia says the supposed atrocity was staged by the civil defence organisation the White Helmets.

"We already have a subtitled version of this report," Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said on state channel Rossiya 1 on Thursday.

"We are distributing it to member countries (of the UN Security Council) and journalists, and at the next meeting of the Security Council we will find a way to screen it."

AFP was not able to independently verify the veracity of the claims.

Western powers accuse Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime of using chemical weapons against civilians in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.

The United States, France and Britain carried out air strikes on what they said were Assad's chemical weapons installations in response.

Assad's ally Russia has claimed the White Helmets faked the Douma atrocity with British backing in order to justify Western action.

In the video, a man presented by the channel Rossiya 24 as Hassan Diab's father said his son was given "dates, cakes and rice" to play a part in the staging of the alleged attack.

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