RUSSIA, MOSCOW (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The militants of the Khaiat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group (formerly Jebhat al-Nusra), together with the White Helmets organization, are planning provocations with staging airstrikes and using chemical weapons in the de-escalation zone in Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
As explained in the department, residents of the village of Sarmada, located 30 kilometers north-east of the provincial capital of Idlib, reported that in early November unknown people arrived in the city accompanied by armed militants and a convoy of three trucks with various chemical containers.
One of the vehicles contained professional video equipment and fragments of aviation and artillery ammunition with Soviet and Russian markings.
The Ministry of Defense noted that information on the preparation of provocations by fighters from the detachment of commander Abu Malek, a member of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, as well as members of the White Helmets organization, was confirmed through several channels.
Terrorists, according to the military, select local residents to take part in the filming, depicting the effects of air strikes and the use of toxic substances.
“Fake videos about civilian targets destroyed during air strikes and artillery shelling and allegedly used chemical weapons in Idlib province are planned to be posted on social networks and presented as evidence of the crimes of the Syrian government and the actions of the Russian air forces against civilians,” the Ministry of Defense said.
The White Helmets organization, widely known and supported in the West, has declared its goal to save civilians in war zones, but is accused by the Syrian authorities of having links with extremists and conducting hostile propaganda activities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the activities of the White Helmets an element of an information campaign to denigrate the Syrian authorities and, in particular, blamed them on the provocation, which gave rise to the West to accuse Damascus of using chemical weapons and to strike at objects of government forces.
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