23:00 GMT21 February 2020
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    A provocation involving the use of sarin in Syria being prepared by the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, may happen in the near future, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Frants Klintsevich told Sputnik on Sunday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, a military-diplomatic source told Sputnik that the Jabhat Fatah al Sham was preparing provocations with the use of the sarin poisonous gas in the towns of Khan Sheikhoun and Kefraya.

    “Undoubtedly, this information has a high confidence level. I expect this provocation to happen in the near future,” Klintsevich said.

    He said that Russia was working on the issue.

    Klintsevich also pointed out the connection between the provocation and the soon arrival of a US carrier strike group to the Syrian shore.

    “As soon as it [the group] arrives, the provocation with the use of chemical weapons will occur and the United States will launch an air attack,” the lawmaker said.

    Klintsevich noted that the Syrian government could not be involved in chemical attacks as its weapons were removed and liquidated, which is confirmed by the data of the OPCW. He added that the fact that terrorists in Syria were producing chemical weapons had been known for a long time.

    Earlier this week, the White House claimed that a new attack involving chemical weapons was in the works by the Syrian government, however, declined to present any evidence. Washington vowed to make Syrian authorities "pay a heavy price" in case of chemical weapons use. The Kremlin commented on the White House's claim and said that it considers US' threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be "unacceptable." Damascus also denied the information.

    On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province. Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 6.

    Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile had been confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.

    In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha’irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of the new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.


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    chemical weapons, Frants Klintsevich, Syria, Russia
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