20:41 GMT25 January 2021
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    The Syrian Foreign Ministry has come out with a scathing criticism of Washington's decision to allocate $6.6 million to the White Helmets, a rescue group which Damascus and Moscow have repeatedly accused of serving as a "media arm" for the Nusra Front terrorist group.

    "The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemns the recent US decision to provide additional financial support to [the] 'White Helmets' terrorist organization, which is a blatant embodiment of US, French, British and other states' support for various kinds of terrorism witnessed in Syria since 2011," the ministry said in a statement released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on Sunday.

    The Foreign Ministry also reiterated its position that the US and some other Western countries have used the organization to engage in terrorism, including chemical terrorism, to try to distort Syria's image and prolong the war against the country.

    "It is no longer a secret that the so-called 'White Helmets' is the main weapon of the Jabhat al-Nusra* terrorist organization and that the terrorism perpetrated by this organization has killed many innocent Syrians," the statement concluded.

    On Saturday, sources speaking to Sputnik Arabic said that they were monitoring the movement of White Helmets members in southwest Syria and warned that such movements could signify preparations for a new false flag chemical attack amid the ongoing Syrian military operation against militants in the region.

    The same day, at a joint briefing by the Russian foreign and defense ministries, Russian officials revealed that the equipment used to make advanced explosives and chemical weapons at labs in recently liberated Douma was made in Europe and North America.

    In an interview with the Russian media released Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Western powers of using "stories" about the Syrian Army's use of chemical weapons as a "pretext for direct military intervention" against the country. He also said that he believes that the terrorists would return to the idea of building a so-called caliphate one day because they are a tool used by Western powers.

    The White Helmets are a self-described rescue organization founded by former British Army officer James Le Mesurier in 2014 and officially tasked with saving lives in militant-controlled areas of Syria. Damascus and Moscow have accused the group of being a propaganda arm for the jihadists and have provided extensive evidence on the group's propensity to stage fake attacks. In April, the US, France and Britain launched missile strikes against numerous targets across Syria, justifying the attack with video evidence of an alleged chemical attack in Douma provided by the White Helmets. Subsequent investigations have shown that the video was a fake.

    * A terrorist group outlawed in Russia. AKA Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Also described as al-Qaeda's Syrian branch.


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