Militants in Syria’s Idlib Preparing for ‘Staging Chemical Attack’: Russia
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Russia's Defense Ministry warned the White Helmets organization, jointly with militants from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group (formerly known as Nusra Front), are preparing for staging airstrikes and usage of chemical weapons in Syria's northwestern Idlib de-escalation zone.
"Several sources have confirmed the information — militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group ... together with the White Helmets organization are planning on attacking settlements in the Idlib de-escalation zone in order to stage incidents of airstrikes with the use of chemical weapons," the ministry said on Tuesday, Sputnik reported.
It added that residents of the Sarmada settlement had seen militants arriving at the town in early November in three trucks that were loaded with containers with chemicals as well as professional video-making equipment and pieces of Russian artillery.
The ministry said the militants had been recruiting people to participate in the staging of the attack.
"It is being planned to make fake videos of destruction caused by airstrikes and artillery shooting at civil targets and the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib province. (The videos) will be published on social media and used to blame the Syrian government and Russia over their alleged actions against civilians," the ministry added.
The White Helmets is a UK-registered NGO. The group enjoys wide publicity and endorsement in the West but has been accused by Damascus of extremism and spreading propaganda.
Russia considers the group's activity an element of an informational campaign aimed at the vilification of the Syrian government. In particular, Moscow accused the White Helmets of staging a false-flag provocation in Syria in 2013 that later gave grounds for the West to accuse Damascus of chemical attacks.