The Russian Defense Ministry warns that members of terrorist organizations, in cooperation with representatives of the so-called civil defense group White Helmets and mercenary media outlets, have been planning to stage yet another false-flag chemical attack against civilians in the Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib to implicate Damascus.
Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted the deputy head of the ministry's Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, Rear Admiral Alexander Vadim Kulit, as saying that the terrorists were preparing to simulate a chemical attack in the de-escalation zone of Idlib as President Bashar al-Assad took the constitutional oath to run the country for a fourth consecutive term.
The Russian military officer indicated that the terrorists intended to implement their plans in the vicinity of the strategic Saraqib city and the town of Khan Sheikhoun to film the drama in order to accuse the Syrian government forces of using toxic materials against civilians.
Saraqib has a strategic significance as it overlooks the 450-kilometer-long M5 highway.
The M5 highway starts in southern Syria, near the border with Jordan, and runs all the way north to the city of Aleppo near the Turkish border.
Since 2012, the M5 had been controlled by various foreign-backed militant groups. Syrian government forces started regaining parts of the highway in 2014, but they were only able to take full control during the latest offensive.
Syrian army troops and their allies established control over the highway on February 10 after dealing heavy blows to Takfiris south and west of Aleppo.
The Damascus government began road repair shortly afterwards, and the Syrian Ministry of Transport announced on February 22 that the highway was officially open to traffic and “at the full disposal of citizens.”
President Assad on Saturday took the oath of office for a fourth term in war-ravaged Syria, after taking 95 percent of the vote.
The Russian Defense Ministry last month warned that foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists in Idlib are moving military equipment and armored vehicles to two districts in the area, and have stepped up their mortar attacks on neighboring districts.
“Illegal armed groups in the southern part of Idlib de-escalation zone are moving militant units and armored vehicles to al-Saan and Majdaliya villages in Idlib province,” Kulit added.
Moscow and Damascus have on many occasions accused militants of staging gas attacks in a bid to falsely incriminate Syrian government forces amid army advances and fabricate pretexts for Western military strikes.
Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.
The US and its allies, however, have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an alleged chemical attack has taken place.