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Kremlin rejects report on alleged gas use in area of attack on Russian helicopter in Syria

August 02, 2016, 13:34 UTC+3

The Kremlin spokesman refused to comment on possible resumption of airstrikes at militants in Syria after Russian Aerospace Defense Forces’ Mi-8 helicopter was attacked on August 1

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has slammed as a false information release the media reports that toxic gas was allegedly dispersed in the area where a Russian helicopter was earlier shot down in Syria.

"I don’t have information; we don’t have information about how the operation is proceeding," Peskov said.

"It is very hard to react to such information releases: it is not always clear what they are based on, what their sources are and so on," the Kremlin spokesman said.

The news agency Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing representatives of Syrian opposition forces that on the night after a Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter was shot down, some helicopter allegedly dropped containers with toxic gas on a township near the place of the disaster. The report also claimed that more than 30 people had suffered from the gas.

The Kremlin spokesman advised journalists to turn to the relevant departments for details of what was going on in the region.

"Probably, these issues shouldn’t be addressed to the Kremlin," Peskov said.

No comment on air strikes resumption

The Kremlin spokesman has refused to comment on possible resumption of airstrikes at militants in Syria after Russia's Mi-8 helicopter was attacked on August 1.

"This question should be addressed not to us," Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

The Kremlin spokesman also refused to comment on US State Secretary John Kerry’s recent statements that Moscow and Damascus should refrain from offensive operations in Syria, as well as similar statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"I would prefer not to comment on the statements made by the (US) state secretary and Turkish foreign minister. In this case, you should better ask the Russian Foreign Ministry for comments," he noted.

The Russian Mi-8 helicopter was downed in the Syrian province of Idlib on Monday as a result of shelling from anti-aircraft weapons on the ground. The helicopter was returning to the Hmeymim air base after delivering humanitarian aid to Aleppo. There were three crewmembers and two officers of the Russian Center for reconciliation of warring parties in Syria onboard. They all died in the crash.

"The helicopter of the Russian Aerospace Forces was shot down over the territory being controlled by the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) and the so-called ‘moderate opposition forces’ associated with it. The rotor-wing aircraft was hit by ground fire," the Head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy.

Mi-8 has become the third Russian helicopter lost in Syria.

A Mi-8AMTSh helicopter was lost on 24 November 2015. A Mi-28N assault helicopter crashed near the Syrian city of Homs in the early hours of April 12. Moreover, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Syrian Mi-25 helicopter was downed on July 8 with two Russian officers onboard.

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