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Syrian Presidency via AP

President Bashar al-Assad told AFP that last week's chemical weapons attack is "100 percent fabrication," and that the U.S. concocted the whole story in "order to have a pretext" for the missile strike on his forces.

"There was no order to make any attack. We don't have any chemical weapons. We gave up our arsenal three years ago. Even if we had them, we wouldn't use them. We have never used our chemical arsenal in our history, said Assad. "Our impression that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack."

An important detail: The AFP said that during the TV interview, the Syrian government wouldn't let them use their own cameras — only cameras belonging to the Syrian government were allowed. And afterward, the government only gave AFP the tape of the first 5 questions and answers.

Meanwhile: Samples taken from the attack in Syria tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, the British delegation at the world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Thursday, per Reuters.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
4 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.