Bashar Al-Assad
Bashar Al-Assad Reuters

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said in an interview on Monday that the global chemical weapons watchdog faked and falsified a report over an attack near the capital Damascus last year “just because the Americans wanted them to do so.”

Assad’s comments, made to Italy’s Rai News 24 and quoted by The Associated Press, came after the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expressed confidence in the report into the deadly attack in Syria.

OPCW’s chief Fernando Arias supported the report issued in March by a fact-finding mission from the watchdog that found “reasonable grounds” that chlorine was used in a deadly attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Douma.

The mission was not mandated to attribute blame for the attack, but the US, Britain and France blamed Syria and launched punitive airstrikes.

The Syrian regime repeatedly denies having any connection to chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Assad’s comments came after a letter purportedly by a member of the OPCW team released by WikiLeaks called its conclusions biased.

“That’s what the OPCW organization did – they faked and falsified the report, just because the Americans wanted them to do so,” Assad said, speaking in English. “So, fortunately, this report proved that everything we said during the last few years, since 2013, is correct.”

“We were right, they were wrong. This is proof, this is concrete proof regarding this issue,” Assad said about the leaks, adding, “Again, the OPCW is biased, is being politicized and is being immoral.”

Arias said two weeks ago that the report was written following careful consideration of all information, noted AP. He added that he stands by the “impartial and professional conclusions reached by the fact-minding mission.”

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington, but the OPCW has since found chlorine has been "systematically and repeatedly" used as a weapon.

Such chemical attacks in 2017 and earlier this year led the US to launch punitive strikes against Syrian forces.