The Russian military says it has “irrefutable evidence” incriminating the rebels in the November gas attack on government-controlled Aleppo. Earlier, the US alleged it was a false-flag operation staged by Syria and Russia.
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has decried the allegations by the US State Department which said on Friday that Moscow and Damascus were behind the shelling of civilians in Aleppo with a toxic substance on November 24.
On Nov. 24, the Assad regime & #Russia falsely accused the opposition & extremist groups of conducting a chlorine attack in northwestern Aleppo. U.S. strongly refutes this narrative & has credible info. pro-regime forces likely used teargas against civilians in Aleppo on Nov. 24. pic.twitter.com/Avz6vKYUz0
— Department of State (@StateDept) December 7, 2018
The MoD called the statement “an attempt to whitewash terrorists in Idlib… who pulled the rug out from under their Western patrons with this provocation.”
The Russian military has repeatedly warned that militants were plotting a false flag chemical attack, saying back in September that chlorine-filled canisters were delivered to Al-Nusra terrorists in Idlib. However, the US and its allies have largely ignored or dismissed the Russian warnings.
The deliveries of chemicals were usually “synched” with Washington, the ministry claimed, stating that the US is ready to conduct another large-scale missile strike in Syria to punish it for the alleged attack.
Syria media reported that over 100 people were injured as result of the November 24 attack. It is believed to have been launched from within the Idlib de-escalation zone, particularly from an area controlled by Al-Nusra terrorists.
Damascus immediately called on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission to Aleppo. Yet, the reaction in the West has been rather restrained, with only France asking the UN chemical watchdog to look into the incident.
Russian experts have recovered samples of soil, fragments of buildings, and ammunition used in the assault to determine the constitution of the toxic agent. Gas analyzers have confirmed that the area was contaminated with chemicals.
The State Department on Friday played the ‘blame it on Russia’ game, claiming that Damascus and Moscow framed the opposition by using tear gas on civilians.
“The Assad regime & Russia falsely accused the opposition groups of conducting a chlorine attack in northwestern Aleppo,” a statement by deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino reads. Washington said it “has credible information” that Damascus “likely used” tear gas against civilians, alleging that Russian personnel were also involved.
With regards to the OPCW probe, the US said that it “is deeply concerned that pro-regime officials have maintained control of the attack site in the immediate aftermath, allowing them to potentially fabricate samples and contaminate [the] site” before the fact-finding mission arrives.
Moscow fired back, insisting that it is Washington that seeks to interfere with the chemical watchdog’s efforts, putting it under pressure to “impede the impartial investigation.” It cannot be ruled out that the US wants to distract attention from its own bombing campaign in eastern Syria that has cost the lives of “dozens of civilians” by peddling the misleading narrative, according to the MoD.