Syria’s President Bashar-al Assad says reports of a chemical attack by his forces were “100% fabrication”.
In an exclusive video interview with Agence France-Presse, he said “there was no order to make any attack”.
Mr Assad told the AFP news agency that the Syrian government had given up its arsenal of chemical weapons in 2013, adding “even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them”.
Mr Assad accused the West of making up the story so it had an excuse to carry out the strikes on a Syrian government airbase, which took place a few days after the Khan Sheikhoun attack.
“It’s stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack,” he said, questioning the authenticity of the video footage.
Mr Assad also said that he would only allow what he called an “impartial” investigation into the events at Khan Sheikhoun, to ensure it would not be used for “politicised purposes”.
More than 80 people were killed in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April, and hundreds suffered symptoms consistent with a nerve agent.