DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – The terrorists of the al-Qaeda-linked groups and the so-called White Helmets are preparing to stage a chemical attack in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.
The official news agency said it cited sources in Idlib as confirming that the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the umbrella group of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, as well as the White Helmets group are preparing to launch a chemical attack in Idlib to frame the Syrian army.
It said the groups have evicted the town of Jurjanas in the southern countryside of Idlib as a prelude to launching the attack in order "to justify a pretext for a U.S. aggression on Syria."
According to the sources of SANA, the terrorists are planning to use chlorine gas in their anticipated attack.
The U.S. struck Syria over such pretext last year when the terrorists in the formerly terrorist-held Douma district east of Damascus accused the Syrian forces of using toxic gas in the attack against the city last April.
In the past several years, militants have launched dozens of chemical attacks in Syria. Damascus has called on the United Nations to take action in this regard.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a global watchdog, has documented systematic use of nerve agent sarin and chlorine during Syria's eight-year conflict.
Under a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on September 17, all militants in a demilitarized zone, which surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw by October 15.
The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in the Idlib region, but the HTS terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits, largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, holds a large part of the province and the zone.
The HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib Province, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 members of different factions of armed groups, which Syria, Russia and Turkey consider terrorists, are active in the volatile province, which is home to around three million inhabitants.
Russia believes that a buffer zone would help stop attacks from Idlib-based militants on Syrian army positions and Russia's military bases in the flashpoint region.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
In this file picture, Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic on the militant-held village of al-Shifuniyah in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.