"According to the information received from inhabitants of Idlib province, militants are now filming a staged provocation in the city of Jisr al-Shugur, where "chemical weapons" are depicted as being used by the Syrian army against civilians. The film crews of several Middle Eastern TV channels arrived in Jisr al-Shugur in the morning, as well as the regional affiliate of one of the main American television news networks," the Reconciliation Center said.
The Russian military added that the militants had brought two containers loaded with a chlorine-based toxic substance to Jisr al-Shughur to make the provocation seem "natural."
"The plot envisages staged scenes showing 'activists' from the Civil Defense ("White Helmets") 'helping' the residents of Jisr al-Shughur after the Syrian army allegedly used the so-called barrel bombs with poisonous substances," the center said.
Later in the day, Syrian human rights activist and public figure Ammar Jamal has confirmed to Sputnik that a group of 30 representatives of the White Helmets had arrived to Idlib to organize a provocation. According to human rights activists, the White Helmets arrived on Tuesday morning with tanks with an unknown gas. At the moment, they are located on a grain storage site.
The information follows Sunday's Wall Street Journal report that the US Defense Department might be mulling the idea of striking Russian or Iranian military forces aiding the Syrian government if they were to launch an assault on Idlib. The report added that the United States would specifically decide whether to strike Russian air defense installations.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government has pledged to drive the remaining terrorists out of Idlib and has begun taking steps toward full-scale military operations in the territory.
Russian Defense Ministry Warned About Provocations in August
If coalition forces strike, it won't be the first time they will have targeted Syrian government positions after citing alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian government. On April 14, the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched over 100 missiles at multiple targets in Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Eastern Ghouta city of Douma that reportedly took place on April 7. The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons and said that the Jaish al-Islam terror group staged the attack in order to summon a foreign intervention in the country.