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    Terrorists in Syria to Stage Chemical Provocations to Justify US Strikes -Moscow

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    According to information in the possession of Russian Foreign Ministry, terrorists in Syria are planning to stage chemical provocations in order to justify US strikes on government forces, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during her weekly presser on Thursday.

    Russia believes terrorists in Syria plan to stage chemical attacks in order to justify US airstrikes against the Syrian military, Zakharova said.

    "According to information available [to us], Syrian terrorist groups plan staged provocative actions with the use of chemical poison gases to justify US strikes against the positions of the Syrian government forces," Zakharova told a weekly briefing.

    Daesh has deployed chemical laboratories and special equipment for creating chemical bombs to Deir ez-Zor from Raqqa in Syria, Zakharova revealed.

    "Daesh is transferring workshops and equipment for the production of ammunition, including those equipped with chemical agents, from the city of Raqqa to the controlled areas of Deir ez-Zor province," Zakharova said.

    Citing the US-led coalition's statements claiming the nearly full encirclement of Raqqa, she noted that "the movement of such large-scale equipment from under the nose of the coalition forces can indicate at least a selective unwillingness to see the facts."

    "I think you can speak with a high degree of probability about complicity with insurgents," Zakharova asserted.

    The spokeswoman reiterated that Russia will seek thorough probe of the April 4 incident in Khan Sheikhoun in addition to other 'chemical' provocations against the Syrian authorities.

    "We will continue to consistently seek the most professionally rigorous and politically impartial investigation into the investigation of both the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident and other persistent chemical provocations against the legitimate Syrian government," Zakharova said.

    Last week, the White House claimed that a new attack involving chemical weapons was in the works by the Syrian government, however, declined to present any evidence. Washington vowed to make Syrian authorities "pay a heavy price" in the case of chemical weapons use. The Kremlin commented on the White House's claim and said that it considers US' threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be "unacceptable." Damascus also denied the information.

    On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States 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 of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, 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 Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.

    In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha'irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of the new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.

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    chemical attack, Maria Zakharova, Syria, United States
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