Thousands of militants with heavy weaponry and armored vehicles have gathered in the Syrian province of Idlib preparing for an offensive on government-controlled areas in Hama and Aleppo, the head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, told media on August 25.
Maj. Gen. Tsygankov recalled that over 70% of the territory of Idlib is controlled by militant groups. The biggest and the most influential of them is Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
“Last week, the leader of this terrorist organization, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, urged all Idlib gangs to launch a jihad against the secular Syrian state. The number of proponents of political dialogue, detained and kept in prisons, has topped 500 people. Several thousands of militants with heavy weaponry and armored vehicles have gathered for an offense on Hama and Aleppo,” he said.
Earlier Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov announced that militants, backed up by British intelligence, are preparing to stage a chemical attack in the province of Idlib in order to create justification for new US-led strikes on government facilities in the war-torn country.
“In the most populated area of Kafr Zita, preparations are being made for a group of residents brought from the north of the province to participate in the staging of an “attack” of allegedly chemical munitions and bombs by Syrian government forces, staged assistance by mimicked ‘rescuers’ from the “White Helmets” and the shooting of video for distribution to the Middle East and English-language media,” he said.
The US is already preparing for this scenario. According to Konashenkov, the US Navy’s destroyer Sullivans with 56 cruise missiles on board arrived in the Persian Gulf several days ago and a B-1B strategic bomber of the US Air Force armed with AGM-158 JASSM air-to-surface missiles was deployed to the Al Udeid air base in Qatar.