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HTS terrorists plotting to carry out false flag chemical attack in Syria's Idlib: Russia

This file picture shows foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists affiliated with the so-called Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militant group in Idlib, northwestern Syria. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Russian Defense Ministry says foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists affiliated with the so-called Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group in Syria are planning a false flag chemical attack in northwestern province of Idlib to incriminate government troops.

Deputy head of the ministry's Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, Rear Admiral Alexander Grinkevich, said that HTS terrorists intend to stage a provocation in the southern part of Idlib’s de-escalation zone.

Grinkevich said the Takfiris are planning to film a fabricated poisoning of civilians in the Jabal al-Zawiya area 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the provincial capital Idlib, and subsequently publish the video on social media networks or hand it over to Western and Arab media outlets to create the false notion that Syrian army forces had targeted the region with chemical weapons.

Separately, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya strongly dismissed all allegations of Syrian troops’ involvement in chemical attacks against residential neighborhoods as “fabricated.”

He emphasized that the Damascus government has honored its own obligations and destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile. 

“Syria does neither intend nor, more importantly, sees any reason to use chemical weapons,” Nebenzya said during a virtual UN Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East.

"The fact that terrorist groups are using chemical warfare in Syria is being deliberately and outrageously ignored.”

Back on September 3, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) continued to delay the investigation of chemical attacks in Syria.

“We state once again that the OPCW Technical Secretariat continues to use far-fetched pretexts to procrastinate on the investigation of chemical attacks by Syria’s armed opposition, although Damascus regularly informs the OPCW and the UN Security Council about such cases,” she told a news briefing in Moscow at the time.

Zakharova then pointed to the November 24, 2018 chemical attack in Aleppo.

“It’s nearly two years since the incident. However, the Technical Secretariat is still unable to complete the investigation and continues to put forward extra preconditions addressed to the Syrian side,” she argued.

Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.

Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United States and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation roundly rejected by the Syrian government.

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