Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed in an interview Thursday that last week's chemical weapons attack in northern Syria, which killed over 80 civilians, was a "fabrication."
The assault last Tuesday in Syria's Idlib Province led President Trump to authorize the U.S. military two days later to fire 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian government airfield, from which the U.S. government believes the Assad regime launched the attack.
While Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday there is "no doubt" the Assad regime carried out the chemical weapons attack, which killed dozens of children, the Syrian president dismissed such assertions in an interview with AFPTV.
"It's not clear whether it happened or not," Assad said. "How can you verify the video? You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake."
Assad claimed that humanitarian workers in Syria are al Qaeda members in disguise who "shave their beard, wore white hats, and appeared as humanitarian heroes."
"So the same thing for that chemical attack, we don't know whether those dead, the children, were they dead at all?" Assad asked. "Who committed the attack if there was attack? What material? You have no information at all. Nothing at all. No investigator."
"So you're saying it's a fabrication?" the interviewer asked.
"Definitely. 100 percent false. It's fabrication," Assad responded. "We don't have [a chemical weapons] arsenal and we're not going to use it, and you have many indications if you don't have proof, because no one has concrete evidence. But you have indications."
The United States intelligence community concluded that Syrian forces were behind the chemical attack, using aerial intelligence, local reporting, and samples taken from victims of the attack in its assessment.
This is not the first time Assad has brushed aside reports of his regime committing human rights abuses as "fake." Last year, he claimed that the viral photo of a bloodied Syrian child was fabricated, even though medical services confirmed they treated the boy. In February, Assad said a report produced by a human rights watchdog group detailing mass hangings at a military prison in Syria was "fake news."