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    This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows members of the Syrian Civil Defense group helping a wounded man after airstrikes hit Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March. 1, 2018

    Syrian FM: White Helmets Kidnapped 44 Children to Stage Chemical Attack in Idlib

    © AP Photo / Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets
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    Syrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Muallem have met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a visit to Moscow.

    The visit is being held within the framework of the Syrian-Russian intergovernmental commissions.

    "Russia is ready to increase its contribution to these tasks (the restoration of Syria and the solution of the issue with the return of refugees)," the minister said at a press conference following the talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.

    On Situation Around Idlib

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the use of the de-escalation zone in Idlib by Al-Nusra* terrorists to attack Syrian and Russian forces "unacceptable."

    "It is unacceptable that the terrorists who are entrenched there, primarily from the Nusra Front [a terrorist group banned in Russia], are trying to use this de-escalation zone to prepare attacks on the positions of the Syrian army and even for attempts to attack the Russian military base in Hmeimim using aerial drones," Lavrov said at a news conference following talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

    Moscow has warned the West that they should not play with fire by trying to create provocations in the Idlib area, Lavrov noted.

    "Another provocation by the West is being prepared in order to try to obstruct the anti-terrorist operation in Idlib," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

    Lavrov also stressed that the US attempts to establish "authorities" on the left bank of the Euphrates, as it may lead to Syria's split.

    "The US presence in Syria has not only a military aspect… Simultaneously, our American colleagues are actively developing the eastern bank of the Euphrates, restoring infrastructure there, social and economic networks and even creating quasi-state local government bodies," he said.

    On Western Meddling in Syria's Affairs

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has warned of possible US-UK-French aggression and of disastrous consequences of Western attempts to destabilize the country.

    Regardless of whether the US-UK-French attack happens or not, Damascus will accomplish its fight against terrorism, the minister noted.

    "We will do our best to avoid possible civilian casualties and generally avoid bloodshed," he said, noting that Al-Nusra front is trying to prevent such plans.

    The US has lost to Syria in the military sphere, despite all its efforts, the Syrian foreign minister added.

    "We can say that the Americans lost militarily in Syria, despite the efforts they have made, and now they want to take advantage of the moment to get any dividends through political processes and preventing the return of refugees to their homes," Muallem told reporters.

    On Possible Chemical Weapon Provocation

    The White Helmets have kidnapped 44 children in Idlib to use in a staged chemical attack, according to the Syrian foreign minister.

    "Behind the creation of the pseudo-organization the White Helmets, are the British special services: they sponsor them, they lead them. They were behind the organization of those fabricated scenarios for the use of chemical weapons and now they are preparing such a development of the situation with the use of chemical weapons in Idlib," Muallem stated.

    He also stated that there is no need for the Syrian army to use chemical weapons, emphasizing that it doesn't possess such weapons.

    READ MORE: Number of Civilians Killed in US-Led Operations in Syria, Iraq Rises to 1,061

    Muallem noted that Damascus intends to expand its relations with Tehran.

    Earlier this week, Russia's Defense Ministry warned that the leader of the Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group, which is affiliated with the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Nusra terror organization (banned in Russia), was planning a chemical attack against civilians in Idlib in order to provoke western nations into retaliating against Damascus.

    Russia, alongside Iran and Turkey, is a guarantor of the ceasefire regime in Syria. Moscow has also been assisting Damascus both through supporting the struggle against terrorist groups and providing humanitarian aid to the residents of the crisis-torn country.

    *Al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra, known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham is a terrorist group banned in Russia

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    conference, visit, Walid Muallem, Sergei Lavrov, Syria, Russia
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