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Planned Chemical Weapon Provocation in Idlib aimed to Prevent Removal of Terrorists: Lavrov

Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Syria (Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

The planned chemical weapon provocation in the Syrian province of Idlib is aimed at maintaining the presence of terrorists in the area, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The Russian FM, who met his Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir in Moscow on Wednesday, compared the terrorist presence in the province with an “abscess” that should be swiftly removed.

“Idlib is now the last remaining hotbed of the terrorists, who try to speculate on the area’s status of de-escalation zone; try using the population as a human shield and try repressing the armed groups that are ready for talks with the government,” he said.

The Minister also noted that the overall goal in Washington with regard to war-ravaged Syria, was not really helping the country, but to push for regime change.

US chose ‘neocolonial course’ in Syria to gain control over its resources – Russian envoy to UN

“It’s not the first time the US – no matter the administration – has prioritized the task of changing dissident regimes above the common goals of eradicating terrorism and extremism. It happened in Iraq and Libya. Now they’re trying to do the same in Syria. To phrase it more correctly – they tried to do it in Syria, but failed,” Lavrov said.

The chemical attack issue and “the threats that are put forward against the Syrian government, are used with the sole purpose of preventing the expulsion of the terrorists from the de-escalation zone in Idlib,” Lavrov said.

In this case, the Trump administration is simply following the policies of Barack Obama, under whom “the Americans tried to use all means possible to shelter Jabhat al-Nusra, with hope of using it in the fight against, what they call, the regime,” he added.

Earlier, Moscow warned that a provocation, involving chemical weapons, was being prepared in Idlib by the US, with the aim of blaming the Syrian authorities and justifying further air strikes.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that sources on the ground informed them that the chemicals to be used in the fake attack have been already delivered to terrorists in the area with the assistance of the infamous White Helmets group.

Washington cautioned that it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian authorities with retaliatory strikes, which would be a lot larger in scale than those conducted against the country by the US, the UK and France in April.

Those strikes were carried out based on an unconfirmed reports of a chemical attack, which also came from the White Helmets. The Western-backed group has been caught red-handed working with militants and producing fake evidence to smear the Syrian government and its allies.

US Plans to Use Fake Chemical Weapons Attack to Strike Syria: Russian MoD

FILE PHOTO. © Paul Hanna / Reuters

The US may have plans to use a fake chemical attack in Syria to hit government forces with airstrikes, the Russian Defense Ministry has said. Washington is already building up strike capability in the Middle East, it said.

The warning comes a day after the Russian military said it had information about a looming provocation in Syria’s Idlib governorate, which would involve a staged chemical weapons attack. The US earlier warned it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, which would be stronger than those conducted by the US, the UK and France in April.

‘Foreign specialists’ may stage chemical attack in Syria in 2 days to frame Assad – Russian MoD

In a statement published on Monday, the Russian MoD said it noted the deployment to the Mediterranean last weekend of the missile destroyer USS Ross carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles on board. It came after a similar move of the USS The Sullivans to the Persian Gulf and the rebasing of a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to an air base in Qatar. The Russian ministry said the “preparations are the latest evidence of the US intention to use the” expected provocation.

The statement reiterated that the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militant group, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, was preparing a staged chlorine attack in a city in Idlib. It alleged that a group of jihadists, trained in the handling of chemical weapons by the British private military contractor Olive Group, has already arrived in Jisr al-Shughur. The group will “stage decontamination of victims of a staged chemical weapons attack posing as members of the notorious White Helmets group,” the ministry claimed.

“The implementation of this provocation, which is being conducted with the assistance of the British intelligence services, is meant to serve as the latest pretext for the US, Britain and France to deliver a missile strike against state and economic facilities in Syria,” said General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.

On August 22, US National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that “if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”

In April, a reported chlorine attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta neighborhood served as justification for the US, UK, and France to attack what they claimed to be sites involved in a clandestine Syrian chemical weapons program. The missile attacks came just as a team of international inspectors was set to arrive at the scene to collect evidence of the supposed attack.

Later, residents of the area told journalists that the footage of the treatment of the alleged victims of the attack was filmed by the White Helmets group after they orchestrated a panic at a local hospital. The patients there were not poisoned by chlorine, local medics said. The footage was presented by the mainstream media as proof that an attack took place.

‘Foreign specialists’ may stage chemical attack in Syria in 2 days to frame Assad: Russian MoD

FILE PHOTO White Helmets in Syria © Omar Haj Kadour / AFP

“Foreign specialists” have arrived in Syria and may stage a chemical attack using chlorine in “the next two days,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. This will be filmed for international media to frame Damascus forces.

Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the operation is planned to unfold in the village of Kafr Zita in Syria’s northwestern Hama Province in “the next two days.”

Terrorists readying chemical attack to frame Damascus & provide pretext for US strikes – Russian MoD

Konashenkov said that “English-speaking specialists” are already in place to use “poisonous agents.” While a group of residents from the north has been transported to Kafr Zita and is currently being prepared “to take part in the staging of the attack” and be filmed suffering from supposed “‘chemical munitions’ and ‘barrel bombs’ launched by the Syrian government forces.”

The groups of residents will be used to assist “fake rescuers from the White Helmets.” They will be filmed apparently suffering from the effects of chemical weapons and then be shown in “the Middle Eastern and English-language media.”

The defense ministry earlier warned that the US, UK, and France are preparing to use the planned attack as a pretext for airstrikes against Syria. The USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, was already deployed to the Persian Gulf a couple of days ago.

On August 22, US National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that “if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov earlier warned that the US is not finished looking for pretexts for regime change in Damascus.

In April, the US, UK, and France unleashed a bombing campaign on Syria in response to an alleged gas attack in Douma, which the West blamed on Bashar Assad’s government. The operation started hours before a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was due to reach the city.

Terrorists readying chemical attack to frame Damascus and provide pretext for US strikes: Russian MoD

File Photo: A US Air Force B-1B Lancer / AFP

The US and its allies are preparing new airstrikes on Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that militants are poised to stage a chemical weapons attack in order to frame Damascus and provide a pretext for the strikes.

The attack would be used as a pretext for US, UK and French airstrikes on Syrian targets, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said. USS ‘The Sullivans,’ an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, was already deployed to the Persian Gulf a couple of days ago, he added.

The destroyer has 56 cruise missiles on board, according to data from the Russian Defence Ministry. A US Rockwell B-1 Lancer, a supersonic bomber equipped with 24 cruise missiles, has also been deployed at the Qatari Al Udeid Airbase.

Bolton calls on Al-Qaeda to stage more chemical attacks in Syria

The provocations are being prepared by militants from Al-Nusra Front (now known as Tahrir al-Sham) in Idlib province, northwestern Syria,

In order to stage the attack, some eight canisters of chlorine were delivered in to village near Jisr al-Shughur city for the terrorists’ use, he added. A separate group of militants, prepped by private British security company Olive, have also arrived in the area. The group will be disguised as volunteers from the White Helmets group and will simulate a rescue operation involving locals purportedly injured in the attack, according to the military official.

According to the Defense Ministry spokesman, recent statements by US National Security Advisor John Bolton – in which he threatened to bomb Syria – could be interpreted as an implicit confirmation of such airstrikes. On August 22, Bolton stated that “… if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned Washington against new reckless moves in Syria, RIA Novosti reported. “We hear ultimatums from Washington, including those made in public,” the top official said, apparently referring to Bolton’s recent remarks.

According to Ryabkov, the US is aiming to destabilize Syria and create new pretexts for regime change in Damascus. “Again, we are witnessing serious escalation of the situation [in Syria],” he added.

In April, the US, UK and France unleashed a bombing campaign on Syria. The airstrikes were carried out in response to an alleged gas attack in Douma on April 7, which the West blamed on Bashar Assad’s government. The operation started hours before a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was due to reach the city.

Back then, Syrian defenses were scrambled to repel some 103 cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles launched at civilian and military targets by the Western trio. It managed to intercept at least 71 of them, the Russian Defense Ministry said at the time.

• First published by RT

“Propaganda organization”: White Helmets “engage in anti-Assad activities”

Although some members of the Western-supported White Helmets may be in the business of saving lives, the group is also a “propaganda organization,” author Sy Hersh (Reporter: A Memoir) has told RT’s Going Underground.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist also spoke about reporting in the United States and how it changed under the Obama administration, as well as the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK.

Assad to Ban Foreign Money from Syria Reconstruction

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to Russian NTV channel © Reuters

Syria will not allow Western investors to step into the rebuilding of war-damaged country as they only come to “take” from foreign economies, Syria’s Bashar Assad told Russian media, adding he will seek friendly aid instead.

The US and its Western allies have been actively engaged in the seven-year long war in Syria, including the illegal stationing of troops in the country and backing anti-government militants such as Free Syrian Army (FSA) and “moderate” Islamist groups. The war has dealt billions in damage to the country, but President Assad is determined to rebuild without a single penny from the “dishonest” West.

“They [the West] won’t be part of reconstruction in Syria, because very simply we won’t allow them to be part of it… we don’t need the West. The West is not honest at all, they don’t give, they only take,” the Syrian leader told Russian NTV channel on Sunday.

US tells rebels not to count on its help as Syrian army advances into country’s southwest – report

The country was historically built without external help, the Syrian president stressed, adding that any loans would be allowed only from “friends.” On the other hand, European investors, who have been privately contacting the Syrian authorities on the matter, will be banned from Syrian markets. Assad says that Europe has eyes for Syria just to save its own “dire” economies.

“They need this market, they are in a very dire situation economically since 2008, most of the European countries. They need many markets, Syria is one of them, and we are not going to allow them to be part of this market, very simply,” he said.

During the interview, Assad lashed out at Western powers, which he believes are controlled by Washington and only have “the substitute of statesmen” and “fake politics.” He said this approach needed “fake stories,” including the alleged use of chemical weapons, which Assad was repeatedly accused of despite Damascus destroying the stockpile in 2013.

The Syrian leader also said that negotiating with US President Donald Trump would be fruitless as Washington always comes up short on its promises and things only get worse when it’s involved.

“The problem with the American presidents is that they are hostages to their lobbies, to the mainstream media, to the huge corporations, financial, oil, armaments, etc.,” Assad said. He described President Trump as a “very stark example” of the American approach in politics – always saying “what you want to hear,” but doing the opposite, things get “worse and worse.”

“So, talking and discussing with the Americans now for no reason, without achieving anything, is just a waste of time,” the Syrian leader said, adding that Damascus is ready for productive dialogue, but it is unlikely to have it with Washington “in the foreseeable future.”

Saudi-led Coalition Strikes Newly Built Doctors Without Borders Facility in Yemen

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A newly built cholera care center, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the town of Abs, has been hit by Saudi-led coalition planes in yet another airstrike on the medical charity’s facilities in war-ravaged Yemen.

The attack has rendered the center “non-functional,” MSF said in a statement, with photos from the scene showing that the building’s roof and some of the walls were completely destroyed in the airstrike. Luckily, the bombing in the Hajjah governorate did not result in deaths or injuries, because the “facility had not yet received any cholera patients and was empty,” the statement read.

Doctors Without Borders stressed that the cholera treatment center (CTC) was hit despite “markings on the roof of the compound clearly identifying the CTC as a healthcare facility.” According to MSF, the coordinates of the facility had also been declared to the Saudi-led coalition by the organization.

“Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable,” Joao Martins, the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Yemen, said. “MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed.”

“CTC had been built to save lives,” Martins pointed out, as the country is bracing itself for another outbreak of cholera. The fight with the disease is “far from over,” the World Health Organization warned last week, adding that over a million people are currently at risk.

During the three years of violence since the Saudi-led military intervention in the country, Yemen has suffered the worst cholera epidemic in modern history, with over a million people affected, nearly half of them children, and more than 2,200 deaths, according to the UN.

In August last year, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit an MSF hospital, also located in Abs; that attack, in which 19 people were killed and 24 injured, became the deadliest among several such incidents during the conflict.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched their first airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015, in an attempt to help reinstate ousted President Mansour Hadi to power. Since then more than 5,500 civilians have been killed and over 9,000 injured as of the end of 2017, according to the UN.

The majority of civilian casualties were the result of airstrikes, with the Saudi-led coalition being blamed by international human rights groups for indiscriminate bombings in Yemen. The US and UK have also faced harsh criticism for selling weapons to the coalition, which are then used against civilians.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

Saudi-led Coalition Strikes Newly Built Doctors Without Borders Facility in Yemen

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A newly built cholera care center, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the town of Abs, has been hit by Saudi-led coalition planes in yet another airstrike on the medical charity’s facilities in war-ravaged Yemen.

The attack has rendered the center “non-functional,” MSF said in a statement, with photos from the scene showing that the building’s roof and some of the walls were completely destroyed in the airstrike. Luckily, the bombing in the Hajjah governorate did not result in deaths or injuries, because the “facility had not yet received any cholera patients and was empty,” the statement read.

Doctors Without Borders stressed that the cholera treatment center (CTC) was hit despite “markings on the roof of the compound clearly identifying the CTC as a healthcare facility.” According to MSF, the coordinates of the facility had also been declared to the Saudi-led coalition by the organization.

“Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable,” Joao Martins, the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Yemen, said. “MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed.”

“CTC had been built to save lives,” Martins pointed out, as the country is bracing itself for another outbreak of cholera. The fight with the disease is “far from over,” the World Health Organization warned last week, adding that over a million people are currently at risk.

During the three years of violence since the Saudi-led military intervention in the country, Yemen has suffered the worst cholera epidemic in modern history, with over a million people affected, nearly half of them children, and more than 2,200 deaths, according to the UN.

In August last year, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit an MSF hospital, also located in Abs; that attack, in which 19 people were killed and 24 injured, became the deadliest among several such incidents during the conflict.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched their first airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015, in an attempt to help reinstate ousted President Mansour Hadi to power. Since then more than 5,500 civilians have been killed and over 9,000 injured as of the end of 2017, according to the UN.

The majority of civilian casualties were the result of airstrikes, with the Saudi-led coalition being blamed by international human rights groups for indiscriminate bombings in Yemen. The US and UK have also faced harsh criticism for selling weapons to the coalition, which are then used against civilians.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

US Using “ethnic cleansing” to Set up Compliant State in Syria

The US is trying to ethnically cleanse Syria in order to kill off Syrian nationalism and create an obedient state, journalist Vanessa Beeley told RT following a damning report on the US coalition’s military activities in Raqqa.

“They bombed trapped civilians”.  Amnesty’s damning report on US,UK, and France destruction in Raqqa

Beeley, an independent journalist who has covered the war in Syria extensively, told RT that the US, UK and French coalition is using proxy forces to cleanse certain areas of land in the war-torn country in an effort “to replace them with a proxy that will essentially create a US controlled state.”

She was responding to a new Amnesty International report that strongly criticizes the actions of the US-led coalition in its campaign to liberate the previously Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL)-controlled city of Raqqa.

A woman stands on rubble of damaged buildings in Raqqa © Aboud Hamam / Reuters

The Amnesty report accused the coalition and its Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) proxies of creating “a level of destruction comparable to anything we’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of wars,” and it says that the coalition’s claims that the bombings were “precise” and caused few civilian casualties do not stand up to scrutiny.

Beeley said that the Amnesty report put “meat on the bones” of previous analysis from on-the-ground journalists and some Russian analysts and commentators. She said that despite the US-led campaign ostensibly being about ridding the area of IS terrorists, it was the terrorists “who were evacuated as priority over the civilians.”

“Civilian property and infrastructure, essential infrastructure like water taps, like water supply units that were keeping civilians alive during the campaign were also being targeted,” she said, adding that it was the SDF forces designating the targets for the US coalition.

“So there’s a degree of collusion here between the US coalition and its proxies forces on the ground,” she said.

Beeley also criticized the reluctance of the British government, in particular, to admit to causing civilian deaths during its military campaign. The UK Ministry of Defense, she said, “did not even admit one civilian death as a result of their “precision” bombing — and then they only reluctantly admitted that they believe one civilian was killed by one of their drone strikes.”

Comparing the American-led military campaign in Raqqa to the Russian and Syrian-led military campaign to liberate east Aleppo, Beeley said that there were different standards set and attempts were made to protect Aleppo civilians.

“What we saw there were the provision of humanitarian corridors for civilians to be able to leave under the cover of the Syrian Arab Army and with the help of the Russian reconciliation teams negotiating with the terrorist and militant extremist factions to allow civilians to leave,” Beeley said. “What we’ve seen in Raqqa is civilians paying smugglers to try and leave during the military campaign, having to cross minefields, being unable to afford the cost of those smuggling groups.”

Beeley also said that Syrian civilians were being forced to return to buildings and areas of Raqqa that had not yet been cleared of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), booby traps and mines left by IS militants.

In contrast, the journalist said that Russian forces “cleared thousands of hectares of those IEDs and booby traps” following their campaigns to liberate Aleppo and Ghouta from IS.

“What we’re seeing here is a disgusting despicable disregard for human life both during the military campaign and even more importantly after the military campaign by the US coalition,” Beeley said.

Watch Vanessa Beeley’s full interview with RT below:

‘The Best Interests of the People’: Ex-US Top Spy Clapper Justifies Election Interference

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Fret not, people of the over 80 countries where the US has interfered in elections – it was done in your “best interests,” according to former head of US Intelligence James Clapper.

Clapper, who famously lied about the NSA mass surveillance program before it was revealed by Edward Snowden, is back in the media spotlight, promoting his new book, Facts and Fears.

The tome promises readers "Hard truths from a life in intelligence." However, perhaps the more interesting insights are on Clapper’s reflections on the so-called Russiagate scandal and investigations into the alleged hacking of the US presidential election. 

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Tobin Harshaw, Clapper is asked about the US’ own history of election interference:
‘I guess the way I think about that is that through our history, when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments, it was done with the best interests of the people in that country in mind,’ he answers, noting that 'traditional reverence for human rights.'
US actions of overthrowing foreign powers has long been the subject of academic discussions and debate, with over 80 instances of it between 1946 and 2000 documented in Dov Levin’s report "When the Great Power Gets a Vote" alone.

Clapper claims he’s not simply jumping on the book-writing bandwagon, but that the loss of what he calls the “beacon of truth” is what inspired him to put pen to paper.

He says US President Donald Trump is not the problem with America, he’s just a symbol of the wider issue, “where now it’s fashionable to have alternative facts or where ‘truth is relative,’ to quote Rudy Giuliani.” 

Truth also seems to be a “relative” term for Clapper, who was caught out by Edward Snowden’s uncovering of a mass surveillance program at the NSA, something the former intelligence chief had denied to the US Select Committee on Intelligence.

The now-retired Clapper has some high hopes for his publication, saying he hopes it can in some way inform the public about the threats the US faces, “both internal and external.”

On the regrets front, there’s no surprise as to what he feels the biggest issue yet to be solved is, and that’s the “intractable problem” of Syria.

His comments come just days after President Bashar Assad told RT that Washington and its “puppets” tried, and failed, to destroy Syria – and the US military will eventually be forced out of the country.

Reprinted with permission from RT.