The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the United States, the United Kingdom and France of preparing to carry out new strikes against Syria under the pretext of chemical weapons use by Syrian government forces.
"Western countries' actions in spite of their public statements are aimed at another sharp deterioration of the situation in the Middle East region and the disruption of the peace process on the territory of Syria," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov noted.
According to the spokesman, militants in Idlib province are preparing to stage the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the government.
"To carry out the alleged 'chemical attack' in the city of Jisr al-Shughur in the province of Idlib, militants from the Tahrir al-Sham group (affiliated with the Jabhat Nusra* terror organization) had delivered 8 tankers with chlorine… to a village a few kilometers from Jisr al-Shughur," the general stated.
"This provocation with the active participation of the British special services will serve as another pretext for the US, UK and France to conduct a missile strike on the Syrian government and economic facilities," Konashenkov said.
A group of militants trained under the guidance of a private British military company, Olive to work with poisonous substances has arrived in Idlib, the ministry said.
"The militants are tasked with imitating the rescue of victims of chemical weapons' use in the vestments of the notorious White Helmets," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov noted.
Russia Warns West Against New Reckless Moves in Syria – Deputy Foreign Minister
Moscow has heard the recent statements made by US Security Adviser John Bolton on Syria and is warning the West against new reckless moves toward the Middle Eastern country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Sputnik.
"We can hear ultimatums voiced by Washington, including public statements. This does not affect our commitment to fully eliminate terror cells in Syria and return this country to normal life … We warn the United States and its allies against new reckless moves," Ryabkov said.
Moscow will continue to support Damascus in its efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria, including in the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), the diplomat emphasized.
"The fact that the western states do not want to participate in [these efforts] once again proves that they have other goals [which are] to further destabilize Syria, not shunning any tools and continue seeking new pretexts for raising the issue of regime change, the transfer of power in Damascus. There is nothing new about this … We are ready for such developments, we expose their intentions. But the US [authorities] do not seem to learn from history, including recent history, because we can currently see the escalation of the situation [in Syria]," Ryabkov noted.
The diplomat suggested that at present, "the scenario of a gross provocation and subsequent strikes [on Syria] was very likely."
Threats and ultimatums are the only languages spoken by the United States, Ryabkov stressed.
On August 23, National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly told Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev that America is prepared to respond with the greater force in Syria than the last time.
In July, however, OPCW experts announced that they had found traces of organic substances containing chlorine, reportedly used in the attack in Douma. Yet there was no evidence that nerve agents had been used in the attack.
The first Western missile attack on Syrian government forces was conducted by the United States on April 7, 2017 after Washington had accused Damascus of being behind the purported use of chemical weapons in the settlement of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
Damascus has strongly denied the claims, with President Bashar Assad saying that the attack was a provocation aimed at justifying the US strike on Syria.
*The Jabhat Nusra (also known as Al-Nusra Front) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.