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Foreign secret service behind Syria chemical attack: Russia FM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Dutch counterpart in Moscow on April 13, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russia says it has "irrefutable" evidence that the recent alleged chemical attack near the Syrian capital of Damascus was staged with the help of a foreign secret service.

"We have irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this staged event," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok in Moscow on Friday.

The alleged April 7 attack in the militant-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region purportedly left dozens dead and drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

Immediately after the so-called chemical attack, the United States and its allies rushed to accuse the Syrian government of conducting it. However, in a statement, the Syrian government has denied the allegations, saying such claims were aimed at halting Syrian forces' advances in the region and were made by the terrorists themselves.

"The chemical fabrications, which did not serve the terrorists and their sponsors in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, will not serve them today either, as the Syrian state is determined to end terrorism in every square inch of Syrian territory," read the statement.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also lambasted as “bogus” reports of the chemical gas attack allegedly conducted by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta, warning that any military intervention based on such “invented and fabricated excuses” could lead to severe consequences.

“The spread of bogus stories about the use of chlorine and other poisonous substances by (Syrian) government forces continues. Yet another such fabricated piece of information about an alleged chemical attack in Douma appeared yesterday,” the ministry said in a statement on April 8.

France, the US and Britain have been using the alleged chemical attack in Douma as a pretext to threaten to take military action against Syria.

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Elsewhere in the presser, the Russian foreign minister further warned against any adventurous measure in Syria and expressed hope that the experience of Libya and Iraq would not be repeated in the Syrian conflict.

"God forbid anything adventurous will be done in Syria following the Libyan and Iraqi experience," Lavrov said.

He said that even the smallest miscalculation in Syria could "lead to new waves of migrants to Europe and a lot of other developments that aren't at all needed, either by us or our European neighbors, and can only gratify those who are protected by an ocean."

The top Russian diplomat noted that his country is using channels of communications with the United States on Syria.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday warned that a military strike on Syria carried the risk of spiraling out of control, cautioning the White House as it weighs how to respond to a suspected chemical attack outside Damascus last weekend.

Speaking before a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Mattis said his primary concern in planning military action was avoiding anything that would trigger a wider war.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia on Thursday called on the US and its allies to drop plans for potential military intervention in Syria, warning he "cannot exclude" the possibility of direct military confrontation between Moscow and Washington in case the Arab country is attacked.

Speaking after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting over US President Donald Trump's threats of an imminent military action against Syria over the alleged chemical attack, Nebenzia told reporters that the presence of Russian troops in the Middle Eastern country had made the situation even more dangerous.

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war," Nebenzia said. "We hope there will be no point of no return."

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