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SEPTEMBER 2020

Russia Shares Intelligence On Prepared Chemical Weapons Provocation In Syria’s Idlib With United States

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Russia Shares Intelligence On Prepared Chemical Weapons Provocation In Syria's Idlib With United States

Idlib militants. FILE IMAGE: REUTERS / Mohamad Bayoush

On August 29th, Russia announced that it hopes the US government will take efforts to prevent “terrorists” from using chemical weapons in Syria.

This came as a statement from the Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov. “We are hopeful that the United States will do everything in their power to prevent the use of chemical weapons by terrorists and will act responsibly,” Antonov said on Wednesday. Antonov pointed out that Russia has also warned US officials against conducting strikes in Syria.

The Ambassador pointed out the rhetoric around the subject of potential use of chemical weapons by Damascus may be used as a signal for “terrorist groups” and “pseudo-humanitarian organizations” such as the White Helmets to stage a provocation.

Antonov also warned that the UK Special Services are allegedly preparing to launch a fake chemical attack in Syria as a pretext for the US, the UK and France to conduct airstrikes on the country. “This provocation, which is being prepared with active involvement of British Special Services, may become a pretext for the western ‘trio’ (Washington-London-Paris) to conduct another missile strike against Syrian military and civil infrastructure,” he said.

Anatoly Antonov on August 29th said that he had met with the US special representative to Syria, James Jeffrey, and David M. Satterfield, acting assistant secretary of state on August 27th. The meeting was confirmed by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert. The meeting had been called by Russia on August 24th. The Ambassador commended the US side for coming at such short notice and described the meeting as “constructive and professional.”

During the meeting, intelligence that Russia had gathered was shared with the US. Furthermore, the US officials were told “in detail” about the provocation against civilians being prepared by Tahrir al-Sham in the northwestern province of Idlib.

On August 28th, a large shipment of poisonous chemicals was delivered to the militants in Syria’s Idlib (members of Ahrar al-Sham) with the assistance of the White Helmets “rescue group” in order to stage a chemical weapon provocation and blame the Syrian government, according to a statement by Russia’s Ministry of Defense. The Ministry further reported that the chemicals were also delivered to Tahrir al-Sham commanders and that the movement was planning a chemical attack that would be presented as another “atrocity” of the “Syrian regime.”

RT reported the following: “Eight canisters of chlorine have been delivered to a village near Jisr al-Shughur city, and a specially trained group of militants, prepped by the British security company Olive, also arrived in the area to imitate a rescue operation to save the civilian “victims.” Militants plan to use child hostages in the staged incident, according to Antonov.”

Moscow warned Washington of the provocation, while noting that a massive airstrike targeting Syria’s military and civilian infrastructure will constitute another act of “groundless and illegal aggression” against Syria. “A new escalation in Syria does not correspond to interests of any party. We believe that our concern will be heard,” Antonov said, adding that he hopes the US “will take every effort to prevent terrorists from using toxic chemicals and will be acting responsibly, in accordance with the status of the UN Security Council permanent member.”

On August 28th, the US, in response, warned Russia and President Bashar Al Assad’s regime that it will respond to any chemical weapons attacks in the northern Syria province of Idlib. US Defence Secretary James Mattis said he had been in “active communication” with Moscow to deter the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Assad’s forces. “You have seen our administration act twice on the use of chemical weapons,” Mr Mattis said, referring to previous occasions when the US launched strikes against the Syrian government.

On August 22nd, the US National Security Adviser John Bolton also warned that the US would act “very strongly” in the case of a chemical attack in Syria.

On August 27th, Major General Felix Gedney, the Deputy Commander of the international military force to defeat ISIS denounced the Russian claims that Britain and the US are about to stage a chemical attack in Syria. He dismissed the claims as “absolutely ridiculous propaganda.”

“The UK is a proud coalition member with a proven track record [to defeat ISIS],” Maj Gen Gedney said in a tweet. “All [coalition] members condemn the use of chemical weapons,” he added.

Earlier, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defence ministry’s spokesman, said that American cruise missile ships working in conjunction with “British secret services” will target the settlement of Kafr Zayta, to the south of Idlib, “as a pretext for missile strikes by the West and the United States.” The Major General had been told that “English-speaking” foreign experts had arrived to stage a “major provocation” using chemicals using chlorine-loaded missiles. “The strike on the settlement of Kafr Zayta from rocket launchers using poisonous substances is planned in the next two days,” he said on August 25th.

The White Helmets also appear to be involved in the incident. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the group planned to film videos in Syria for Middle Eastern and English-language media outlets after staging a false-flag chemical weapons attack aimed at sharply destabilizing the situation in the war-torn country.

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