Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
The Assad regime and Russia have renewed their disinformation claiming preparations by rebels and White Helmets for “false flag” chemical attacks in northwest Syria.
Syrian State news agency SANA wrote Tuesday that “terrorist groups and the terrorists of ‘White Helmets'” are preparing the “provocation” to blame the regime. It declared that the town of Jarjanaz in Idlib Province has been evacuated for the staging of a chlorine attack “against civilians including children who have been kidnapped”.
Last week Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova put out similar disinformation, “The terrorists, together with the White Helmets, are preparing for further provocations aimed at accusing the legitimate government in Syria of using toxic substances.”
At the end of March, Zakharova even asserted that French and Belgian intelligence services were involved in the false flag operations.
The Assad regime and Moscow have never produced any evidence for their claims. Past attempts to frame rebels and the White Helmets — such as a “chemical weapons factory” in East Ghouta near Damascus, as pro-Assad forces overran the area — have been debunked by international inspectors.
It is unclear what prompted the latest propaganda. A Russia-Turkey agreement for a demilitarized zone last September suspended an imminent Russian-regime offensive to reoccupy Idlib and northern Hama Province, the last major opposition area in Syria — and home to more than 3 million people, 20% of the country’s population.
However, regime forces have persistently shelled civilian sites in the area. An escalation of attacks since mid-February has killed at least 135 people and displaced more than 160,000.
UN inspectors have attributed responsibility for 33 chlorine or sarin attacks to the Assad regime. They include the April 2017 sarin assault on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, which killed about 90 people and injured hundreds.
The Islamic State is blamed for six uses of mustard gas.