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Syrian opposition refutes chemical attack claims

Opposition previously warned that regime and ally Russia would come up with chemical weapon story to justify further attacks

Ali Murat Alhas   | 25.11.2018
Syrian opposition refutes chemical attack claims File Photo

By Esref Musa, Burak Karacaoglu and Levent Tok

IDLIB, Syria 

Bashar al-Assad regime and its ally Russia on Sunday claimed that an anti-regime armed group carried out a chemical attack from Idlib to Aleppo whereas the opposition elements and local sources disputed the allegations.

SANA, Syria's official news agency, announced that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group launched chemical attack in al-Khalidiya area of Aleppo that is under the regime control, asserting that more than a hundred civilians were affected.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman's early statement today claimed that the chemical strike targeted the northwestern rural of Aleppo, with mortars being fired from Idlib de-escalation zone late Saturday.

It was pointed out that 120 mm mortar shells containing chlorine were fired from Al-Buraykat district controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The ministry also accused the Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, having a part in the alleged attack.

The Assad regime and Russia, since late August this year, have claimed that the opposition forces or anti-armed regime groups were getting prepared for a chemical attack, using Idlib and Operation Euphrates Shield zone for logistics.

On the other side, the opposition and Civil Defense had previously announced that the regime and Russia had a secret agenda of launching a campaign towards Idlib de-escalation zone and break the truce, hence they were preparing scenarios in which the opposition would be accused of chemical weapon usage.

Where is Al-Buraykat?

Al-Buraykat, the settlement mentioned in the Russian statement, is not included in maps.The civilians and active Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups told Anadolu Agency that they didn't know about any place addressed as "Al-Buraykat."

Raed Salah, the head of Civil Defense, told Anadolu Agency that there wasn't a settlement area with such name. "We are not informed about a place like that; even if it exists, we are not operating there," he said.

"The only party with ability and technology to perform a chemical attack is the Assad regime," he said.

Naji Mustafa, the spokesman of National Front for Liberation, the largest umbrella military group in Idlib, said on Telegram that they rejected the claims by Assad regime, blaming the regime for covering up its massacres with such news.

Russia claimed that the chemical attack was performed through mortars. However, they don’t have the capability to turn chemical material liquid into the gas as they don't have enough ignition power to trigger the chemical reaction.

Therefore, chemical attacks are performed through planes or long/short-range missiles.


Retaliation on FSA 

Following the chemical attack allegations, Russia carried out airstrikes on FSA elements in Rashideen, the frontline between Idlib de-escalation zone and Aleppo.

The plane observatory of the opposition said on social media that "three Russian fighter jets took off from the Khmeimim airbase and targeted Rashideen region."

Russian Ministry of Defense shared information on the aerial operation around 4.00 p.m. local time (1300 GMT), adding that it targeted groups allegedly involved in the attack.

Since early morning the Assad regime and Iranian-backed groups have been shelling and firing rockets towards Idlib's Jarjanaz and al-Tamanah towns and Hama's al-Lataminah and Kafr Zita districts.

On September 17, Turkey and Russia inked the Sochi agreement; however, 37 civilians have been killed by the regime and ally attacks in Idlib de-escalation zone since then whereas scores of civilians were left injured.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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