The United States State Department Friday rejected Syria’s Bashar Assad’s claims that Turkey is sabotaging a cease-fire in his country, blaming Assad for Syria’s humanitarian disaster.
Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad has blamed the Turkish military for the fall of Idlib, a major city in northwestern Syria, to a coalition of opposition rebels groups last month including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
"The main factor was the huge support that came through Turkey; logistic support, and military support, and of course financial support that came through Saudi Arabia and Qatar," Assad said in an exclusive interview Friday with Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Idlib became the second Syrian province to officially fall out of the grasp of the Damascus-based regime after Raqqa was overrun by ISIS, militant group, which later declared it the de facto capital of its “caliphate.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she was not giving a lot of credence to Assad’s comments about Turkey.
Assad often presents a false choice between his regime and terrorist groups like ISIL , and that's certainly not how we see it," said the spokeswoman.
"Turkey is a key member of the anti-ISIL coalition. We work very closely with them as a NATO ally and partner on this and other issues."
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has also denied Assad’s claims by a statement from the ministry spokesman Friday.
“Claims that armed forces coming from Turkey have participated in the Idlib offensive do not reflect the truth. This is out of the question,” said the spokesman Tanju Bilgiç.
“These are baseless allegations which have been originated by the Syrian regime and should not be taken seriously.”
Meanwhile, according to Syrian activists in Idlib, regime helicopters dropped chemical barrel bombs on Idlib province, as the United Nations launched an investigation into the regime’s chemical attack allegations.
An Anadolu Agency correspondent in Idlib was told by activists Thursday that Syrian regime helicopters dropped four chemical barrel bombs on Idlib province.
The U.N.’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported late February that the Syrian army has been using chemical weapons systematically and repeatedly in the country.
However, Syrian government has been repeatedly denying the accusation of using chemical weapons on oppositions and its people in the conflict which started in 2011 and claimed more than 220.000 lives and forced around 6 million people to flee their homes.