Ambassador Anatoly Antonov's answer to media question
Question. U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert has recently said during her press briefing that the US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James F. Jeffrey and Acting Assistant Secretary David Satterfield met with you earlier this week and expressed their concerns over possible use of chemical weapons by the Assad’s forces in Idlib. How would you comment upon the words of the American senior diplomat?
Answer. Technically we are not in favor of telling the press about all of our communications with the representatives of the White House, Department of State, Congress and other US officials. However, since Ms. Nauert decided to tell about my meeting with James F. Jeffrey and David Satterfield I want to specify the details a little bit more.
We would like to emphasize that the initiative about the meeting with David Satterfield came fr om the Russian side. Last Friday we sent a letter to the US Department of State to request the arrangement of the meeting as soon as possible. We are grateful to David Satterfield and his colleagues for their brief reaction to our request and the possibility to thoroughly discuss all the Syria-related issues on Monday, August 27. The meeting went professionally in a constructive manner.
The main thing is that we expressed our concerns about American signals of preparing new strikes on Syria on the pretext of possible use of "chemical weapons" by Syrians. We stressed that such a prospect is of grave concern for us. We called Washington to provide undelayed facts on the reasons why the topic with the use of chemical weapons by Damascus is further fueled.
We noted that such rhetoric from the American side could serve as a signal for different terrorist groups and pseudo-humanitarian organizations like «White helmets» to prepare another staged provocation. We provided details about the preparations of the militant group “Hayat Tahrir-ash-Sham” (former “Jabhat an-Nusra”) to commit another provocation with the use of toxic agents against the civil population in Idlib Governorate in order to blame governmental forces for this crime.
We informed our colleagues about the delivery of 8 chlorine containers to the city of Jisr al-Shughour which then were transferred by the militants from -Hizb al-Islami al-Turkistani, to the Halluz village wh ere the group of specially trained fighters have already been deployed (were trained under the guidance of the UK private military company Olive Group). Their task is to simulate rescue of chemical attack victims. For these purposes it is even planned to exploit children taken hostage.
We directly voiced our concerns. This provocation being prepared with the active participation of the British intelligence forces can serve as a pretext for the Western “troika” (Washington-London-Paris) to launch another airstrike against Syrian military and civil infrastructure.
We warned the US not to engage in another baseless and unlawful aggression against Syria. The new aggravation in Syria would not be in anyone’s national interest and only terrorist would benefit from it. We expect our concerns to be heard. We hope that the US will take all possible efforts to prevent the use of toxic agents by terrorists and will act responsibly, like a permanent member of the UN Security Council.