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    A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria. (File)

    Iraq Deja-Vu: US Cites Chemical Weapons as 'Excuse to Invade' Syria

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    Washington’s claims of a new chemical attack being prepared by Damascus in Syria are a pretext for military intervention, a Syrian lawmaker told Sputnik.

    Last week, the United States claimed that the Syrian Army was preparing a new incident involving chemical weapons in Syria.

    "The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack," the White House said in a statement.

    Washington also warned that if a chemical attack is carried out, President Bashar Assad and the Syrian military "will pay a heavy price."

    In response, Damascus dismissed the allegations, calling them "misleading, false and baseless."

    Syrian Minister for National Reconciliation Ali Haidar told the Associated Press that the allegations are part of a new diplomatic battle against Damascus in the UN.

    According to Syrian lawmaker Amar al Asad, "chemical weapons" is a pretext that has been used by the West to invade an Arab country before.

    "The current story repeats what happened in 2003, when the United States cited chemical weapons as an excuse to invade Iraq and topple the government of Saddam Hussein," al Asad told Sputnik Arabic.

    According to the lawmaker, the West is "confused" by the advances made recently by the Syrian Army and its allies.

    Al Asad also noted that Western countries see a "distorted picture" of the actual situation in Syria and their decisions on Syria are based on "fake reports and films."

    "They [those fake materials] claim that the Syrian government is involved in genocide against its own people. Meanwhile, those fake reports are not made in Syria. The so-called White Helmets are also involved. They use children to make their reports and videos even more shocking, in order to accuse Damascus of fascism," the lawmaker said.

    Al Asad added that all of those activities are part of a broader media campaign against the Syrian government.

    "The goal is to change public opinion about Damascus and downplay the importance of the victories gained by the Syrian Army and its allies," he said.

    Another Syrian lawmaker, Muhammed Kheir al Akkam, stressed that the chemical weapons allegations against Damascus are groundless.

    "This is political pressure over Damascus. It is in response to the Syrian Army’s advances in eastern Syria. Washington’s accusations are a lie," al Akkam said in an earlier interview with Sputnik Arabic.

    He pointed out that the US military needs additional grounds for its operations against the Syrian Army.

    Akil Mahfud, Director of International Relations at the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education, described Washington’s statement as a "disguise" for another attempt by the US to escalate the conflict in Syria.

    "This is a signal of new acts of aggression against Damascus and its allies. This is a disguise for aggression… This statement indicates that the Syrian crisis is on the verge of a new escalation," Mahfud told Sputnik.

    Earlier this year, the US already resorted to the chemical weapons argument as an excuse to attack the Syrian military.

    On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the US blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province. Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof that Damascus had used chemical weapons, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 6.

    Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile had been confirmed by the OPCW in January 2016.

    Related:

    'Propaganda Campaign' on Alleged Chemical Weapons Use by Damascus Has Started
    What's Behind US Claims of Chemical Attack Preparation in Syria
    US Claims About Chemical Attack in Syria 'Signal of a New Escalation'
    Center for Syrian Reconciliation Registers No Chemical Attack in Ein Tarma
    Tags:
    chemical weapons, invasion, military conflict, Syrian Arab Army, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, United States
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