Russia has again accused Syrian rebels of preparing a chemical attack which Moscow says will be used to justify a Western strike against the Syrian military.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee is preparing the attack in the northern Idlib province, and that it would be filmed by first-responders known as the White Helmets, who Russia has accused of fabricating past attacks.
Western countries and independent analysts say Syrian government forces have conducted several chemical weapons attacks over the course of the seven-year civil war. Alleged chemical attacks in 2017 and earlier this year led the U.S. to launch punitive strikes against Syrian forces.
Russia is a close ally of the Syrian government, which denies ever using chemical weapons.
Members of the Western-backed White Helmets “aid group,” which stands accused of working with Takfiri militants and launching false-flag gas attacks in Syria, are preparing to launch a new chemical attack in Idlib countryside and accuse the Syrian government of staging it.
Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen Arabic news channel quoted local sources as saying that at least 20 children were abducted from Jisr Shoghour in the last 20 days, in a bid to use them in the expected chemical farce.
The site of the attack would be in Jisr Shoghour prison, the local sources said, adding that toxic materials where transferred to the prison’s depot a month ago via al-Hassaniyah border crossing which links Turkey to Jisr Shoghour in Idlib countryside.
The sources said that the crossing is controlled by the White Helmets, pointing out that another chemical attack would be staged in the neighboring Christian-majority town of Halouz.
Al-Mayadeen reported- citing local sources- that 250 White Helmets members and other foreign militants would take part in the attack, which would take place a week after Syrian government troops start Idlib offensive.
The activity of the White Helmets in Jisr Shoghour prison obviously increased, the report on Al-Mayadeen said, adding that a meeting between the Western-backed group and commanders from the Nusra Front terrorist group took place recently in the area.
The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer, James Le Mesurier. Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.
Damascus stresses that the so-called volunteer group staged the suspected chemical attack in the town of Douma in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on April 7. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has also described the White Helmets as “a branch of the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.