Russian Federation on 'wrong side' of Syria argument, Theresa May says

President Assad has claimed the US used the attack on Syria to justify a military strike

"The United Kingdom, therefore, shares the US assessment that it is highly likely that the regime was responsible for a sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4", said Rycroft.

He claimed the United States and the West were "hand-in-glove with the terrorists".

Assad said his army "gave up" all chemical weapons and that the alleged attack was "100 percent fabrication" in an interview with Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

A British delegation at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog says in a tweet that the organization's director general has said that its investigators already are testing samples from a suspected deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria's Idlib province.

Assad denied having chemical weapons and said Syria would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the incident.

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He assured that his government had handed over all its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 and thus could not have been behind the Khan Shaykhun incident.

"If we truly want to help protect the people of Syria, we must also be willing to offer the Syrians assistance as they flee attacks in search of safety".

It was the first direct USA military action against Assad's forces since Syria's civil war began six years ago, and led to a quick downward spiral in ties between Washington and Moscow. Neither did Russian Federation deny the event occurred: Moscow claimed the deaths were the result of a regime airstrike on a chemical weapons stockpile on the ground, controlled by "terrorists".

Shortly after, under pressure from the West, Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to give up control of its chemical weapons.

The embattled leader, whose country has been ravaged by six years of war, said his firepower had not been affected by the attack ordered by US President Donald Trump, but acknowledged that further strikes were possible. Its findings, expected in 3-4 weeks, will be passed to a joint United Nations-OPCW investigation tasked with identifying individuals or institutions responsible for using chemical weapons.

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The intercepted communications were part of a review of all intelligence in the hours after the April 4 attack in Sheikhoun to confirm Syrian responsibility, CNN reported, citing a senior United States official.

The chemical attack prompted President Trump to order a missile strike at a Syrian military air base last week.

Before the latest round of Geneva talks, the two sides had taken part in three rounds of negotiations, brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital city of Astana. And while ISIS has used some chemical weapons, such as mustard gas, there's no evidence that this attack "involved chemicals in ISIS's possession", the White House says.

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan described the USA missile strike as an "aggression" and castigated the US administration for not waiting for the U.N.to conduct an investigation on what was believed to be a chemical air strike.

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