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‘White Helmets’ plotting new gas attack in Syria: Russia

Members of the so-called White Helmets group search the rubble of a building in the town of Jisr al-Shughur, in the Syrian province of Idlib, Syria, on April 24, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Russia warns that the so-called White Helmets group in Syria are plotting yet another false flag chemical attack against civilians in the country and plan to frame Damascus.

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov made the warning during a UN Security Council session on Wednesday, saying the plot was meant to be carried out by the so-called White Helmets in Syria’s Idlib Province, the last major militant stronghold in the Arab country.

“The pseudo-humanitarian personnel of the White Helmets continue to prepare ever new provocations in order to accuse the lawful authorities of using toxic agents,” Safronkov said, adding, “We see what is going on.”

The White Helmets group is known for its coordination with terror outfits in Syria to carry out staged chemical attacks aimed at falsely incriminating Syrian government forces and inventing pretexts for possible acts of aggression on army troops by a United States-led military coalition present in Syria since roughly 2014.

The group has been involved in such attacks before.

The Russian official also said that despite the Syrian government troops’ advances, Idlib remained a hotbed of terrorism as a large part of it was still in control of terrorists, and that the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist outfit, an al-Qaeda offshoot in the Arab country, continues to conduct indiscriminate attacks on government-controlled areas.

“They strike indiscriminately and that includes strikes on civil infrastructure, and the civilians are dying,” Safronkov said.

Earlier, Major General Viktor Kupchishin, head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, said that foreign media appeared to have filmed a staged killing of a Syrian family in a “chemical attack” in Hama province in an attempt to blame it on Damascus.

Last Thursday, Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, also warned that terrorists with the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, better known as al-Nusra Front, “along with the White Helmets” were gearing up for an attack aimed at accusing Damascus “of using poisonous substances.”

Idlib, located in northwestern Syria, remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after government forces — backed by Iran and Russia — managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.

Around 90,000 militants are estimated to be holed up in Idlib, which has a population of some three million.

In April 2017, a suspected sarin gas attack hit the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib, killing at least 80 people. Accusing Damascus, the US then launched nearly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, taking the lives of about 20 people, including both Syrian soldiers and civilians.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain, and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemical arms. The strikes came one week after an alleged gas attack on the Damascus suburb town of Douma. Western countries blamed the incident on the Syrian government. Damascus rejected the accusation.

The Syrian government says it has never used chemical weapons.

Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

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