The Russian Defense Ministry warns that White Helmets, a group operating under the guise of providing humanitarian aid in Syria, is planning to stage a false flag operation in the northwestern province of Idlib to implicate Damascus.
“We have information that members of illegal armed groups are preparing to stage a provocation in order to accuse Syrian government forces of attacking settlements in the Idlib de-escalation zone,” the deputy head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, Rear. Adm. Vyacheslav Sytnik, said at a news briefing on Sunday.
Sytnik added that a rise in operations by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group was also observed near the village of al-Fuah, northeast of Idlib.
Members of the “pseudo-humanitarian” organization, White Helmets, who have professional video equipment in their possession, were also spotted in the area, he said.
The group is known for its coordination with terror outfits in Syria to carry out staged chemical attacks in order to falsely incriminate Syrian government forces and fabricate pretexts for military strikes by a US-led military coalition present in Syria since 2014.
The Russian reconciliation center urged militant groups to refrain from staging armed provocations and to embark on a path of peaceful settlement of the situation on territories they hold.
Last year, Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin said Western intelligence services were helping the White Helmets propagate fake news in a bid to provoke possible acts of aggression by the coalition against Syrian positions.
“The White Helmets is an organization financed by intelligence services overseas… It is fulfilling their objective within the framework of a propaganda campaign against the Syrian people, and the Syrian Arab Republic at large,” the high-ranking Russian official said at the time.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding the Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
Russia has been providing Syrian forces with crucial military assistance in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued Arab country.
The Russian assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as Syrians continue to recapture key areas from remnants of the Daesh terrorist group and other foreign-backed terrorist factions.