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MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. Combat utilization of chlorine is irrational for Damascus either from the military or the political standpoint and only terrorists or the the opposition can have interest in provocations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
"It is only too obvious for us that the utilization of chlorine as a chemical weapon does not make any sense for Damascus either militarily or politically, as it has other far more efficacious instruments for incapacitation," the ministry said.
"For anyone with a bit of common sense and for the governments of sovereign countries it should absolutely clear that only terrorists, extremists and the irreconcilable, as well as those who are standing behind their backs have a need for chemical provocations of this kind," he said.
Reuters said in a dispatch of Tuesday quoting the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 58 people, including eleven children, had died in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Governorate, as a result of a strike by either Syrian or Russian aircraft.
The news agency claimed the pro-government Syrian forces that had used a toxic gas might have delivered the strike.
Members of the Syrina opposition have charged Damascus of using chlorine on a number of occasions in the past. One alleged instance occurred in September 2013 in Eastern Ghouta.
Accusations of Damascus with the use of chemical weapons are geared to impose a ban on flights by Syrian warplanes, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"The goals of such accusations that have not been verified even by the ‘friends of Syria’ are obvious: to bring to land Syrian aviation by any means in a bid to strip the government troops of their key advantage - air support - for the benefit of the opposition," the ministry said.
"And numerous attempts to use various humanitarian pretexts to create no-fly zones like in Libya are of the same sort," the ministry added.
The news agency Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that an air strike by Syrian or Russian jets had allegedly killed 58 people, including 11 children, and wounded 300. As Reuters said, the air strike could have been carried out by the Syrian government forces in a suspected gas attack.
On Thursday night, the US forces fired 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) on a Syrian military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The US authorities believe that the airstrike on Idlib was launched from that air base.
Syria’s opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has called on the United States and its allies to take further steps to ban Syrian warplanes’ flights.