Tom Batchelor — The Independent April 11, 2017
Russia has information about a planned US air strike on Damascus involving chemical weapons that would be blamed on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in an attempt to frame him, Vladimir Putin has claimed.
The Russian President made reference to strikes on suburbs in the south of the Syrian capital which he suggested would be the targets of the supposed US raids.
He also said the US strike on a Syrian airbase last week reminded him of claims made about weapons of mass destruction claims that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The provocative comments come as the Russian leader warned of the worst relations between Moscow and Washington since the end of the Cold War.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday – hours before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to arrive in Moscow – Mr Putin said he would appeal to the UN to investigate the recent alleged chemical attack in Syria.
“We have information from different sources that these provocations – I cannot call them otherwise – are being prepared in other regions of Syria, including in the southern suburbs of Damascus where there are plans to throw some substance and accuse the official Syrian authorities,” Mr Putin said after holding talks with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella.
He added that some countries had voiced their support for the US air strike on Syria in order to build closer relations with the new Trump administration.
“It reminds me of the events in 2003 when US envoys to the [UN] Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq,” Mr Putin said. “We have seen it all already.”
On the UN investigation, Mr Putin said: “We plan to turn to the United Nations bodies in The Hague and call on the global community to thoroughly investigate into this incident and make balanced decisions based on the investigation’s outcome.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to meet Mr Tillerson on Wednesday. Earlier reports suggested Mr Putin would also meet the US diplomat, something Moscow has not commented on.
Russia has been a long-time supporter of Mr Assad’s government, which was accused of launching a chemical weapons attack on Idlib province.
That incident prompted Donald Trump to launch a cruise missile strike from two warships based in the Mediterranean targeted at an air base said to have been the base from which the original chemical attack was launched.
Meanwhile, Russia’s General Staff has said the Syrian government is willing to let international experts examine its military base for signs of chemical weapons.
Commentary — April 11, 2017
Actually the Independent report above makes a crucial omission. Putin didn’t just say that the U.S. was planning to bomb Syria and blame Assad: he said openly that the U.S. was planning “false flags” and implied that the recent chemical weapons attack at Kahn Sheikhoun was one. Ed.
Idlib ‘chemical attack’ was false flag to set Assad up, more may come – Putin
Russia Today — April 11, 2017
Russia has information of a potential incident similar to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib province, possibly targeting a Damascus suburb, President Vladimir Putin said. The goal is to discredit the government of Syrian President Assad, he added.
We have reports from multiple sources that false flags like this one – and I cannot call it otherwise – are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including the southern suburbs of Damascus. They plan to plant some chemical there and accuse the Syrian government of an attack,” he said at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.
Damascus denied the allegations, noting that the targeted area may have been hosting chemical weapons stockpiles belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) or Al-Nusra Front jihadists.
The incident has not been properly investigated as yet, but the US fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in a demonstration of force over what it labeled a chemical attack by Damascus.
“President Mattarella and I discussed it, and I told him that this reminds me strongly of the events in 2003, when the US representatives demonstrated at the UN Security Council session the presumed chemical weapons found in Iraq. The military campaign was subsequently launched in Iraq and it ended with the devastation of the country, the growth of the terrorist threat and the appearance of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS] on the world stage,” he added.
It was the first time the US had targeted Syrian troops deliberately. The White House says it will repeat military action in response to any possible new chemical weapon attacks.
“The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action,” spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.
Putin reiterated the call to properly investigate what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, saying that the alleged use of chemical weapons demands one.
“We are planning to address the corresponding UN structure in The Hague and call on the international community to thoroughly investigate all those reports and take appropriate action based on the results of such a probe,” he said.
A separate report of a potential false flag operation in Syria came from the Russian General Staff, which said militants were transporting toxic agents into several parts of Syria, including Eastern Ghouta, the site of the 2013 chemical weapons incident.
“These actions are aimed at creating a new pretext for accusing the government of Syria of more chemical weapons attacks and provoking more strikes by the US,” said Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the head of Operations