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Syrian aviation airstrike in Idlib targeted chemical arms lab — Russian Defense Ministry

From this major arsenal, chemical-laden projectiles were delivered by militants to Iraq
A Syrian Air Force jet  Valery Sharifulin/TASS
A Syrian Air Force jet
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. A Syrian aviation airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday targeted workshops to produce chemical-laden projectiles, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

"According to Russian airspace monitoring systems, yesterday between 11.30 and 12.30 local time the Syrian aviation carried out an airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhun, targeting a major ammunition storage facility of terrorists and a cluster of military hardware. The territory of this storage facility housed workshops to produce projectiles stuffed with toxic agents," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

"From this major arsenal, chemical-laden weapons were delivered by militants to Iraq. Their use by terrorists was confirmed on numerous occasions by international organizations and official authorities of the country," he said.

The spokesman added that these projectiles were similar to those used by militants in Syria’s Aleppo, where their use was recorded by Russian military specialists.

"Video footage from social networks shows that those affected in Khan Sheikhun demonstrate the same symptoms of poisoning as the victims of the Aleppo attack had last fall," he added.

The official said that Russia has handed over all information about the incident to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which "still studies them."

"We assure that this information is completely unbiased and true," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that an airstrike by either Syrian or Russian air forces in the Idlib province left 58 people dead, including 11 children. The agency said that the strike was probably carried out by Syria’s government troops, who used an unknown "toxic gas."

The Russian Defense Ministry has immediately rejected the information as "fake," adding that none of its planes performed airstrikes on Khan Sheikhun and its outskirts.

Syria’s Defense Ministry blamed the attack on terrorists and their supporters and rejected any use of toxic agents in Khan Sheikhun. The country’s Foreign Ministry said the accusations against Damascus were "fabricated." Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in an interview with the Al-Mayadeen radio said the government warned about the possibility of a similar attack several weeks ago.