Press review: White Helmets may stall Syria pullout and how low will US-Russia ties go

Izvestia: Moscow believes imminent White Helmets false flag may delay US exit from Syria

Russia has not brushed aside the fact that the White Helmets continue to cook up provocations with chemical weapons. The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that Washington could use a false flag to delay it's troop withdrawal from Syria and justify possible military actions against the Assad government, the ministry told Izvestia. According to the Foreign Ministry, Moscow supports creating a new UN structure that would investigate all cases of chemical weapons use in the region without exception.

"Damascus, which has completely destroyed its national stocks of chemical weapons under international control and has been under the scrutiny of the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, has never had any reason to use chemical weapons. We do not rule out that provocations with chemical weapons can be utilized not only to discredit Assad’s government, but also to preserve the illegal US military presence in Syria and justify any possible military action against the UN member country," the ministry told Izvestia.

The Foreign Ministry also said that Russia favors the creation of an impartial and highly professional international mechanism under the auspices of the UN Security Council.

"However, our efforts were blocked by Western countries who are satisfied with the state of affairs when the structures they control create endless chemical provocations in order to use them for pinning the blame on the legitimate government of Syria," the ministry said.

The Syrian parliament told the newspaper that the militants in Idlib want to stage a chemical attack to disrupt the efforts of the Astana process of returning the region under Damascus' control.

Vladimir Fitin, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), told Izvestia that a potential chemical 'attack' in Idlib would not create any great effect, but it can add on more difficulties to the relations between Russia and Turkey, which would further complicate the disengagement process of separating the militants from the moderate opposition.