Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is plotting a provocation with toxic agents in the northwestern Syrian of Greater Idlib, Vyacheslav Sytnik, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, said in a briefing on February 20.
According to Sytnik, HTS, the de facto ruler of Greater Idlib, wants to accuse government forces of attacking civilians in the region with chemical weapons.
“Terrorists have delivered by trucks containers with toxic agents, presumably choline, to the settlement of Tarmanin. According to our information, militants plan to simulate a chemical attack entailing casualties among local residents in order to accuse the Syrian government forces of the use of chemical weapons against civilians,” the commander said.
Sytnik noted that HTS violated the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey last year, at least 37 times in the last few days. Turkish-backed groups on the other hand, didn’t carry out any provocations.
Over the last two years, several Syrian, Lebanese and Russian sources reported plans by HTS and its affiliates to stage provocations with toxic agents in Greater Idlib. These plots are meant to provoke a military attack by the West against Syrian government forces.
The US attacked Syrian government forces after allegations of chemical attacks in 2017 and 2018. Since then, HTS has been attempting to provoke further attacks.
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