US is Blind to Evidence that Syrian Opposition has Chemical Weapons

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The United States has no evidence that the Syrian opposition has chemical weapons, Pentagon chief James Mattis told reporters.

“At the moment, we see no evidence that the opposition has any chemical potential, despite repeated statements from Russia,” Mattis said.

On September 11, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria reported that, according to information received from the inhabitants of the jihadist-held province of Idlib, in the village of Jisr al Shugur, recordings of a staged provocation on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the army against the civilian population.

For her part, Ammar Yamal, a human rights activist, said that a group of 30 members of the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets organization came to Idlib from Turkey to prepare the assembly.

On September 8, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the terrorists agreed to a plan to carry out chemical attacks at four sites in Syria.

This comes as Ankara appealed to Western states and the global community at large to prevent any military operations in Idlib province, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday.

“We call on the global community, the Western States and the United States to cooperate to prevent possible attacks against Idlib. We hope that in the coming days all sides will join this process for constructive purpose and come to an agreement of a political decision that remove the obstacles to a [peaceful] solution in Idlib,” Kalin told reporters.

Turkey, alongside Iran’s Russia, is a guarantor of the cease-fire under the Syrian regime. Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara intended to cooperate with all its partners to secure a peaceful solution in Syria.

The presence of terrorist groups in Idlib continues to be a point of pressure in the negotiation, even after Damascus managed to eliminate militants from much of the country’s territories during the years of civil war.

In late August, Russia warned that terrorists operating in Idlib would be preparing a counterfeit chemical weapons attack to promote outside intervention by Western countries. On Monday, US national security adviser John Bolton announced that Washington, London and Paris would give a “strong and united” response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

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