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Militants launch offensive at Syrian forces' positions — Russian reconciliation center

Chief of the Russian reconciliation center Viktor Kupchishin said that "the Syrian government forces are currently working on repelling mass attacks by terrorists"

MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. Militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group (formerly known as Jebhat al-Nusra, banned in Russia) have launched an offensive at Syrian army positions with the use of tanks, chief of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides Viktor Kupchishin said on Tuesday.

"At 5:35pm on 21 May 2019, militants from illegal armed groups under the leadership of the Hayat Tahrir al-Shim terrorist group (Jebhat al-Nusra) have attempted to launch an offensive at the positions of Syrian government forces in Al-Khabit — Kafr-Nbuda and Qafr-Zaita — Khamamiyat with the use of tanks and 'jihadmobiles'. The Syrian government forces are currently working on repelling mass attacks by terrorists," Kupchishin said.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier reported that militants in Syria attempted to launch attacks at Russian servicemen. On Sunday evening, terrorists opened fire at the Hmeymim airbase from multiple rocket launcher systems. The attack was repelled, and no damages were reported from the airbase.

The Russian Defense Ministry noted that despite establishing the ceasefire regime on May 18, terrorists from Jebhat al-Nusra continued shellings and provocations in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

"The situation in the south of the Idlib de-escalation zone is further complicated by the terrorist group's intentions to use fabricated materials about alleged use of chemical weapons by the government forces. According to militants captured by the Syrian government forces, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group set up a special unit named the 'chemical wing'. It is headed by Abu Basir al-Britani who is a member of the Hurras al-Din terrorist group that has ties with Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia)," Kupchishin said.

"This new unit includes militants who came to the Syrian Arab Republic from European countries, as well as citizens of former USSR republics," he added.

The "chemical wing" consists of three departments — planning, development, and media relations. "The 'chemical wing' also includes a special medical group consisting of specialists that underwent training in Raqqa on providing medical assistance to those injured in chemical weapons attacks," Kupchishin noted.

He said that terrorists plan to stage a provocation with the use of chemical weapons in order to accuse the Syrian government forces. The Russian reconciliation center is monitoring the situation in and around the Idlib de-escalation zone to prevent terrorists from using toxic chemicals against civilians.