02:22 GMT +318 June 2019
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    Members of the Syrian Civil Defense run to help survivors from a street that attacked by airstrikes and shelling of the Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria

    Militant Claims About Gov't Gas Attacks in Ghouta Sign of Desperation – Reports

    © AP Photo / Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets
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    Rebel allegations that the Syrian Army is using chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta are part of a desperate propaganda effort aimed at garnering the sympathy of their Western sponsors, informed sources have told Syrian media.

    Speaking to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the sources said that some Western powers are working at the UN to try to save the besieged militants from complete destruction at the hands of the Syrian military, which began an operation to liberate the territory from militant control last month.

    According to the sources, the Syrian Army's recent advances in Ghouta have pushed the jihadists and their sponsors to fabricate allegations about government crimes involving chemical weapons in an effort to halt the operation, or even use such claims as a pretext to allow Western powers to launch an attack against Damascus.

    US media confirmed Monday that the White House had mulled an attack on the Syrian capital last week "as a punitive measure" following the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons in East Ghouta in February. Trump reportedly refused to endorse the strike.

    The White Helmets, the self-styled 'Syrian Civil Defense' group notorious for associating with jihadist militants, made new claims Tuesday that the Syrian military had carried out a chlorine gas attack in East Ghouta, injuring several women and children.

    Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria's permanent representative to the UN, had earlier told the UN Security Council that the Syrian government had information about rebel plans to stage a chlorine gas attack and blame it on the Syrian Army. According to al-Jaafari, this attack would be carried out before March 13.

    Last month, the White Helmets reported that three civilians had been killed and dozens injured in an army gas attack, prompting condemnations against Damascus by Washington and its allies. Syria responded to the claims by reiterating that it had destroyed its stocks of chemical weapons in 2013 as part of a deal to avoid a US military intervention in the country. The UN's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed the weapons' removal from the country.

    As of Monday, about one third of East Ghouta is back in government hands. The Syrian Army, including its elite Tiger Forces special forces unit, are battling an assortment of Islamist militias, including Jaysh al-Islam and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front,* which recently rebranded itself as Tahrir al-Sham.

    *A terrorist group banned in Russia

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    claims, militants, White Helmets, Syrian government, Eastern Ghouta, Syria
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