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  1. ITV Report

UK helped fake chemical attack in Douma, Syrian official tells ITV News

A senior Syrian government minister has accused the UK of being involved in faking a chemical attack on civilians in order to justify air strikes against the regime.

Faisal Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister, told ITV News Britain was "absolutely" involved in faking an attack in Douma, which a number of Western governments say killed civilians including women and children.

The alleged incident on the 7th April reportedly killed 75 people, leading to airstrikes by the US, France and UK, targeting several sites linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme.

Missiles over Damascus after the US and allies launched airstrikes against Syria Credit: PA

"We are not aware that women and children were killed. We think this is a theatre. That was made to be used by the western powers to launch such an attack against Syria," Mekdad told ITV News correspondent Dan Rivers.

"I believe what our doctors who were there in the hospital, in that minute, they were saying they did not see any dead person," he added.

"I believe our doctors, not international propaganda."

The head of a medical relief agency operating in Syria has claimed medics who responded to the attack have been subjected to “extreme intimidation” by Syrian officials.

People who had told ITV News they lost their children in the alleged attack were "forced to give such testimonies" Mekdad added.

Explosions from Syrian government attacks on Douma Credit: AP

Asked about the videos of dead bodies: " I think the bodies may be imported from somewhere else. I believe that, because this was a big lie."

He accused Britain of supporting terrorist groups in Syria, saying they are "part and parcel of this conspiracy" against Syria.

Britain's UN ambassador has previously denied a Russian military claim that the UK staged the attack in Douma, calling it "bizarre" and "a blatant lie."

The Foreign and Commonwealth office has called the latest accusations "baseless and absurd".

The Syrian regime's allegations are baseless and absurd.

This is a regime that uses chemical weapons against its own people, denies humanitarian access to starving communities, and frustrates the UN-mandated peace process.

The regime's credibility is at rock-bottom, and its hopeless lies and disinformation deserve nothing but contempt.

– FCO statement

Inspectors from the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have now visited one of the sites of the alleged attack, but their visit was delayed. Russia has been accused of delaying them in order to cover up any evidence of chemical weapons use.

Inspectors were also shot at when they approached the area. Although the Syrian government claims to have retaken control of Douma from rebels, Mekdad claimed there are still "sleeping cells" from terrorist groups there.

The OPCW should have results from their first inspection within a week.