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    The silhouette of a Syrian man is seen through an election campaign portrait of President Bashar al-Assad he hangs it on a billboard on May 11, 2014 in the capital Damascus.

    Assad's Cousin Living in Europe Amid Western Strikes: Nobody Cares About Syrians

    © AFP 2018 / JOSEPH EID
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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)
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    In an exclusive interview with bTV, Ribal al-Assad has expressed his views on the latest reports about the alleged chemical attack in Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which triggered a massive wave of airstrikes against Syria, carried out jointly by the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

    Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the Syrian government, has told Bulgarian bTV that he doesn’t believe that Damascus was behind the chemical attacks in the country.

    “I condemn what is happening in Syria, i.e. the chemical attack, but it is very important, however, to have a full and independent investigation, it is essential to find out who… had used the chemical weapons. … But I am against the conflict in the way it is evolving,” he said.

    According to him, both militants groups, operating in Syria, and the Syrian authorities had access to chemical weapons.

    “Both sides have the capacity to launch a chemical attack. In 2013, 12 members of Nusra Front* were arrested in Turkey for carrying 2 kg of nerve agents. A UN report by Carla Del Ponte was published the same year: She was investigating the developments in Syria and reported that the terrorists had a chance to use the chemical weapons in Syria. If you remember, she retired, having expressed her indignation over the actions of the horrible regime, as well as those of terrorists and extremists, on the other hand. I don’t believe that Bashar Assad has a key role [in this situation],” Ribal stated.

    At the same time, Bashar’s cousin said that nobody “cared about the Syrian people,” explaining that no one had been concerned over their fate for the past five years before the alleged chemical attack drew attention to the plight in the city of Douma.

    Ribal Assad, who has been living in exile in several Western countries, is the founder and director of the Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria. Following an attempted coup d’état by Ribal’s father, Rifaat al-Assad, who used to be the commander of Syria’s defense forces in the 1970s and 1980s during the tenure of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, the family had to flee to France.

    READ MORE: Egypt's Sisi Calls for Int'l Probe Into Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

    On April 14, the United States, France and the UK fired over 100 missiles at Syria in response to the purported chemical attack in the town of Douma, allegedly carried out by President Assad’s forces; most of the rockets were intercepted by the Syrian air defense forces. Damascus has condemned the attack as an act of “aggression,” with Bashar Assad insisting that the trilateral strikes would only boost the country’s resolve to “fight and crush terrorism in every inch.”

    A week prior to the strikes, some media outlets reported, citing militants, that the Assad forces had dropped a chlorine bomb on civilians in Douma, with the White Helmets providing footage of the aftermath of the alleged attack. The US and the EU have rushed to accuse President Assad of using chemical weapons, while Russia has called for a fair investigation before drawing any conclusions. The Syrian government, for its part, has strongly denied those claims, insisting that the attack was staged by terrorists.

    Back in 2016, CIA director John Brennan revealed in an interview that Daesh had the "ability to manufacture small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas," and said that there were a "number of instances where ISIL [Daesh] had used chemical munitions on the battlefield." Later, in 2017, Brennan's words were confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which holds Daesh accountable for the use of sulfur mustard gas in the Syrian village of Maarat Umm Hawsh in Aleppo in 2016.

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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)

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    airstrike, Ribal Assad, Bashar al-Assad, Syria
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