May 30, 2017 / 4:27 PM / 3 months ago

Russia's Putin says certain Syria's Assad didn't use chemical weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets believers and participants as he visits the Sretensky Monastery to take part in a ceremony consecrating a new temple in Moscow, Russia, May 25, 2017.Sergei Karpukhin

PARIS (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed on Tuesday any suggestion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces were behind a chemical attack that killed scores of people in Idlib province in April.

"According to our information, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad. We are convinced that he didn't do it," Putin told daily newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

The remarks came a day after new French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country's intelligence services in April blamed Assad for the Idlib attack, said the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a red line for Paris and would result in reprisals.

Putin said he had offered to arrange inspections of the site in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, but that all the major powers had refused. He said the objective of the allegations had been to discredit Assad and put pressure on him.

It was a way of "explaining to the international community why it was necessary to continue to impose measures to pressure Assad, including militarily," Putin said.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Ingrid Melander

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