The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement, according to RT..
The warehouse was used to both produce
and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.
The same chemical munitions were used by militants in Aleppo, where Russian military experts took samples in late 2016, Konashenkov said.
The Defense Ministry has confirmed this information as “fully objective and verified,” Konashenkov added.
According to the statement, Khan Sheikhoun civilians, who recently suffered a chemical attack, displayed identical symptoms to those of Aleppo chemical attack victims.
At least 58 people, including 11 children, reportedly died and scores were injured after a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun was targeted in a suspected gas attack on Tuesday morning, Reuters reported, citing medics and rebel activists. Soon after a missile allegedly hit the facility, people started showing symptoms of chemical poisoning, such as choking and fainting.
"We deny completely the use of any chemical or toxic material in Khan Sheikhoun town today and the army has not used nor will use in any place or time, neither in past or in future," the Syrian army said in a statement.
The Russian military stated it did not carry out any airstrike in the area either.
However, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the incident, was quick to point to the Syrian government as a culprit, saying that it bears responsibility for the “awful” attack.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed Mogherini, accusing the Syrian government of perpetrating the attack calling it “brutal, unabashed barbarism.” He argued, that besides the Syrian authorities, Iran and Russia should also bear “moral responsibility” for it.
Syria categorically denies using toxic gases neither in Khan Shaikhoun town in Idleb countryside nor in any other Syrian village or city and stresses that the Syrian Arab Army doesn't have any kind of chemical weapon, according to an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates.
The source was commenting on claims circulated by terrorist groups active in Khan Sheikhoun as well as by their western and regional sponsors and supporters and by their affiliated media outlets accusing the Syrian army of using poisonous gases in attacks on Khan Sheikhoun town.
According to the source, Syria stresses that the Syrian army doesn't have any kind of chemical weapons and it doesn't originally seek getting them. Syria also affirms that the army hasn't used chemical weapons even in its fiercest battles against the terrorist organizations and it won't use them in future, the source said.
It pointed out that Syria asserts that it has implemented all its commitments towards the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) since it has joined the treaty in 2013 and clarifies that the terrorist groups and operators are that parties which fabricated these incidents to accuse the Syrian state.
The source said that the new anti-Syria campaign comes as a response to the recent achievements made by the Syrian Arab army and its allied and supportive forces in the fight against terrorism in different Syrian areas.
The accusations against Syria also come before the European Union meeting on Syria, due to be held tomorrow, in order to justify any possible anti-Syria decision to be adopted in the meeting, the source said.
Syria strongly condemns the crime committed by the terrorist groups in Khan Shaikhoun, which comes with the framework of cheap political gain on the expense of the lives of Syrian citizens and reiterates that these fabrications and claims won't weaken its determination to continue fighting terrorism and its supporters in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some EU countries and to keep seeking political solution to the crisis in the country. Syria also urges the international community to support its anti-terror efforts and reject the new allegations being promoted against Syria, the source concluded.
Syrian Army Hasn't Used Chemical Materials in Khan Shaikhoun: General Command
The Syrian army has not used chemical materials in Khan Shaikhoun town in Idlib countryside, the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces has stressed, denying claims by some media outlets about using chemical materials by the army in the above mentioned town.
In a statement on Tuesday, the army command said "in a desperate attempt to justify their failure and to maintain the flow of funding from their supporters, the armed terrorist groups used to accuse the Syrian army of using toxic gases against members of these groups and against civilians every time they fail to implement the agenda of their sponsors and operators or to achieve any gains on ground."
The command categorically denied the accusation, saying the Syrian army has neither used chemical or toxic materials in Khan Shaikhoun, nor will it use them in the future.
"The army hasn't used and won't use chemical materials at any place or at any time not in the past and not in future, " the command affirmed, saying the army never commits such vicious crimes.
The command concluded the statement by asserting that the terrorist groups and their supporters are responsible for the using of chemical and poisonous materials and for the loss of the lives of innocent people.
Russian Defense Ministry denies directing Russian airstrikes on Idleb’s Khan Shaikhoun
The Russian Defense Ministry denied on Tuesday the allegations published by media outlets about directing Russian airstrikes on Khan Shaikhoun town in Idleb countryside, SANA reported.
Earlier, Reuters quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying that an air strike in Idleb province left 58 people dead. Eleven of them were children. The agency speculated that the strike may have been dealt by government forces, which used a toxic gas.
“The Defense Minister has strongly dismissed another fake by Reuters Russian planes allegedly bombed Khan Shaikhoun. Russian planes carried out no strikes in the area of Khan Shaikhoun,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“Moreover, Reuters quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Syria, as the source, which in reality has said nothing about Russian planes’ involvement in rumored bombing of Khan Shaikhoun with chemical ammunition,” it added.
Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim/ Hamda Mustafa
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, President of the ISTEAMS
THE CHEMICAL ATTACKS ON EAST GHOUTA
TO JUSTIFY MILITARY RIGHT TO PROTECT INTERVENTION IN SYRIA