11:38 GMT +313 December 2019
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    State Department Refutes Reports Alleging US Intel Met Syrian Security Chief

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    Lebanese media outlet has reported citing sources that the US delegation had visited Damascus in June and held a meeting with senior officials of the Syrian security agencies.

    In particular, the high-ranking US delegation stated that Washington would pull out its troops from Syria if Iranian forces are withdrawn from southern Syria, Al Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday.

    However, Heather Nauert told reporters on Wednesday that the US State Department had no knowledge of a reported meeting in Damascus between a senior US official and the head of Syria's National Security Bureau intelligence service.

    "It doesn't reflect any reality that we are certainly aware of… We have seen that report… it doesn't reflect anything that the US government is tracking at this point," Nauert said. "I am not aware of any meeting."

    Earlier in the day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russian Foreign Ministry was also unaware of the alleged negotiations between delegations of the US and Syrian intelligence services.

    READ MORE: Syria Presents Proof on Chemical Weapons Terror Attack Preparations

    The Lebanese outlet reporting the meeting said among crucial points of the clandestine talks was also a proposal that US companies could be granted oil concessions in Syria's east and a request that the US side be fully provided with information about the remaining terrorist groups in Syria and about foreign fighters who could return to the Western countries.

    In turn, Heather Nauert said at a press briefing that US Special Representative for Syria Jim Jeffrey and US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield met with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov earlier this week.

    "Ambassador Jeffrey and Ambassador Satterfield met earlier this week with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in part to raise concerns about what could happen in Idlib," Nauert told reporters on Wednesday.

    Nauert pointed out that there are concerns about a potential Syrian government offensive in Idlib and the impact it may have on civilians and infrastructure.

    On Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, head of the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation, said that representatives of the White Helmets group have delivered a large shipment of toxic substances to a warehouse used by Ahrar al-Sham militants in Idlib province.

    According to Tsygankov, a part of this shipment in unmarked plastic barrels was later transported to another militant base in the southern part of Idlib province in order to stage a false-flag chemical attack and subsequently accuse the government forces of the use of toxic agents against civilians.

    In addition, thousands of jihadists have been transported to the province from other Syrian regions under deals conducted with Damascus.

    However, the Syrian army, supported by Russian forces, has organized a humanitarian corridor in the area, allowing civilians to leave Idlib for the territories under control of the Syrian government.

    READ MORE: State Department Says US Will Respond to Chemical Weapons Use in Idlib, Syria

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    Russian Foreign Ministry Says Unaware of Alleged Syria-US Intelligence Talks
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    media reports, meeting, intelligence, talks, U.S. Department of State, Syria, United States
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