12:39 GMT16 January 2021
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    Moscow perceives allegations made by the White House that Syria could be preparing a chemical attack as an "invitation" for terrorists to launch a provocation using chemical weapons, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.

    Earlier this week, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claimed that the United States allegedly "observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime."

    "We consider these new insinuations on the issue of weapons of mass destruction — in the worst traditions of 2003 NATO intervention in Iraq — to be nothing less than an invitation for terrorists, extremists and armed opposition in Syria to fabricate another mass provocation using chemical weapons," the statement, published on the Ministry's website, said. "After [the provocation], the 'inevitable punishment' for Bashar Assad should follow, as envisioned by Washington."

    On Tuesday, the Kremlin commented on the White House's claim and said that it considers US' threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be "unacceptable." Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov pointed out that the Syrian government cannot be held accountable for the April 4 chemical attack in the Idlib province "because, as you know, despite all of Russia's demands, an unbiased international investigation of the previous tragedy has not been carried out."

    Damascus also denied the allegation. Ali Haidar, the Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs in Syria, said that Damascus "never used and will never use such weapons," adding that the statement issued by the White House portends a "diplomatic battle" against Syria in the UN.

    The allegation voiced by the White House triggered confusion in Washington and around the world. BuzzFeed News drew attention to a peculiar detail related to the statement, pointing out that "many officials across the Pentagon did not know what the White House was referring to until Tuesday morning."

    Following Spicer's statement, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert refused to provide evidence of the Syrian government 's alleged chemical attack preparations because that "would be considered an intelligence matter."

    Coinciding with Washington's claim about the Syrian authorities planning a chemical attack, an article by investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh emerged this week, revealing that the US authorities knew there was no chemical attack carried out by the Syrian government.


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    chemical attack, Syria, US, Russia
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