Syria’s Assad Denies Use of Chemical Weapons

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BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad labeled as “preposterous” and “completely politicized” allegations that Syrian forces deployed chemical weapons, according to comments published Monday from an interview with a Russian newspaper.

“How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?” Assad asked in the interview with Izvestia, according to a translation provided by Syria’s official news agency. “This is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.”

For months, Syrian forces have been engaged in an aggressive offensive outside Damascus aimed at pushing back and eliminating rebels, whom the government routinely refers to as terrorists.

Opposition activists have alleged that hundreds of civilians were killed Wednesday in a poison-gas bombardment of the eastern suburbs of Damascus, a rebel stronghold. While the opposition says the targeted districts were under rebel control, Assad pointed out that the disputed districts are adjacent to Syrian military positions.

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