The United States on Friday accused Russia of helping fabricate a story about chemical weapons used by Syrian rebels as a pretext to undermine a shaky truce, AFP reports.
“On November 24, 2018, the Assad regime and Russia falsely accused the opposition and extremist groups of conducting a chlorine attack in northwestern Aleppo,” said State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino.
“The United States strongly refutes this narrative and has credible information that pro-regime forces likely used teargas against civilians in Aleppo on November 24. The United States has information indicating Russian and Syrian personnel were involved in the teargas incident, and believes that both countries are using it as an opportunity to undermine confidence in the ceasefire in Idlib,” he added.
“We caution Russia and the regime against tampering with the suspected attack site and urge them to secure the safety of impartial, independent inspectors so that those responsible can be held accountable,” said Palladino.
Syrian officials said more than 100 people were treated at hospitals for the suspected poison gas attack in the November 24 attack in Aleppo that Damascus and Moscow blamed on rebels.
The rebels, who denied carrying out any poison gas attacks, accused the government of trying to undermine a truce reached by Russia and Turkey in September during a summit in the Russian city of Sochi.
Russian warplanes later attacked rebel-held areas in northern Syria in response to the chemical attack.
Both the Syrian regime and the rebels fighting it have accused each other throughout the Syrian civil war of using poison gas.
A joint team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) accused Syria's government of using chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015, and the nerve agent sarin in an attack in April 2017 in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed about 100 people.
The UN-OPCW team also determined that the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group used mustard gas in Syria twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Such chemical attacks in 2017 and earlier this year led the US to launch punitive strikes against Syrian forces.
Syria denies that it has ever used chemical weapons against civilians and has received backing on this issue from Russia, its close ally.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)