On November 24, militants operating in the province of Idlib shelled the government-held city of Aleppo with rockets containing chemical weapons. The shelling wounded at least 107 civilians, including many women and children.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Russian military experts in chemical protection arrived in the city hours after the attack.
“Groups of specialists from units of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare protection deployed at observation posts in Syria urgently arrived to the area of the attack, carrying special equipment with them. They are working with the injured in hospitals, and monitor the environment in the area where toxic substances were used by militants,” Maj. Gen. Konashenkov said. “According to initial information, confirmed, among other things, by symptoms diagnosed in those affected, the projectiles launched at residential districts of Aleppo were filled with chlorine.”
Maj. Gen. Konashenkov stated that the Russian side had earlier warned that the organization known as White Helmets was preparing to organize chemical provocations in the demilitarized zone around Idlib in order to accuse the Damascus government of using chemical weapons against civilians.
“It is quite evident that the White Helmets have direct ties to terrorist organizations operating in Syria, in particular in the Idlib de-escalation zone,” he said.
On November 25, Russian warplanes eliminated a group of militants, which had conducted a chemical attack on Aleppo. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian military detected and elimianted both militants and their weapons. The military warned that the eliminated militants were planning to carry out another attack on Aleppo.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General that the attack on Aleppo city was carried with help from some foreign powers.
“This terrorist act comes as a result of facilitating terrorists’ access to chemical substances by some states with the aim of using them against the Syrian people and accusing the Syrian Government of that through plays whose scenario had been previously prepared at the black rooms of the intelligence of some states which sponsor terrorism,” the statement said.
During the past few months Russia and Syria repeatedly warned on the highest level, including UN meetings, that provociations involving chemical weapons are possible in northwestern Syria. This informational campaign likely prevented pre-planned provocations against the Damascus government.
However, local militant groups, which obtained chemical weapons from third parties, appeared to be desperate enough to use chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo even without a clear propaganda purpose.
Now, Idlib militants and their supporters around the globe will make an attempt to blame the Assad government for the November 24 incident in Aleppo city. They will likely pretend that “evil Assad” carried out a chemical attack on the government-controlled city in order to accuse the “moderate opposition” of doing this and thus disrupt the peaceful process in the country.
First signs of this campaign can already be observed in some MSM reports. For example, in its report on the chemical attack Reuters quoted “Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razak, an official from the Nour el-Din al-Zinki insurgent faction” [this group became widely known when its members filmed how they were beheading a boy during the battle of Aleppo], who claimed that “rebels” do not “own chemical weapons or have the capacity to produce them”.
Retuters also quoted Abu Omar, a spokesman of another militant group – Failaq al-Sham, who openly accused Damascus of trying to create “a malicious charade” as a pretext to attack militants.
The mainstream outlet concluded its report by claiming that “no rebel group has been confirmed to have used chemical weapons in the war by the by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)”.