Russia Accuses U.S. Special Ops of Staging Chemical Weapon Attack Against Syrian Civilians

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a preemptive statement Monday accusing the United States of preparing a “false flag” chemical attack against civilians in Syria.

The Russian military claimed anti-government rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are working with U.S. special operations forces to use chlorine in a planned attack on the residents of Deir ez-Zor, the government’s Interfax statement claimed Monday, the Moscow Times reported. Russia previously issued several similar preemptive statements claiming that Syrian rebels are being used to stage events that would provoke the U.S. to carry out more air strikes on the civil war–torn Middle East nation. The allegations made by the Russian military follow several reports of canisters of chlorine-based toxic gases being used against anti-government strongholds and civilians.

RTX5WG8H The Russian Defense Ministry issued a pre-emptive statement Monday accusing the U.S. of preparing a “false flag” chemical attack against civilians in Syria. Reuters Ali Hashisho

“The Russian Defense Ministry warns that using these provocations to destabilize the situation in Syria is unacceptable,” spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. "According to the information received via three independent channels in Syria, the command of the so-called Free Syrian Army with assistance from the servicemen of U.S. special operations forces is preparing a serious provocation with the use of toxic substance in Deir ez-Zor province.”

In April, the U.S., France and the United Kingdom launched several airstrikes against Syrian targets after accusing President Bashar al-Assad's government in Damascus of using chemical weapons in an attack on the city of Douma. Assad told The Mail that the British government worked alongside “The White Helmets, or Syria Civil Defense, to conduct the “PR stunt” as a pretext for the Western allies to attack his regime. In 2017, President Vladimir Putin suggested through the Mir interstate television channel that the April 4 Khan Shaykhun chemical attack using toxic sarin gas was a “provocation” orchestrated by Western allies in tandem with anti-government Syrian forces.

At the G7 Summit meeting last week, the U.S., Canada and several European allies agreed in the highly debated communique to form a coalition against Russian aggression in Syria. "We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behaviour, to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime. We condemn the attack using a military grade nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom. We share and agree with the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We urge Russia to live up to its international obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to uphold international peace and security," the countries wrote in the communique.

The Organization of Chemical Weapons has repeatedly warned of increased usage of chemical weapons in Syria. In a statement issued from the Hague last month, the group confirmed that a February 4 ammonium chloride–based chemical attack in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic, took place. The group said the attack was carried out using "cylinders by mechanical impact" in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib.

“I strongly condemn the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances. Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention," wrote OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü.