The Shabab al-Sunnah group (Youth of Sunna Forces) in Syria, a rebel formation affiliated with the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, is likely preparing a chemical attack in the country’s southern province of Daraa, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
Russia has information that the Shabab al-Sunnah group in Syria has access to chemical weapons and intends to use them, Zakharova said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“We have received worrying information. According to Russia’s information, the Shabab al-Sunnah armed group has access to chemical weapons,” Zakharova told a briefing.
According to Zakharova, the group has several missiles fitted with chemical agents at its warhouse in Daraa. The militants are planning to use these weapons in one of the province’s settlements, she noted.
Syrian civilians have been victims to a number of chemical attacks that have hit the troubled country over the past few years.
At least 281 people were killed in an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21, 2013, with some reports putting the death toll at 1,729. The Khan Sheikhoun incident that took place in Syria’s Idlib Province on April 4, 2017 left 80 people dead, including children, and injured 200 more.
The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the United States, blamed the Syrian government for using the chemical weapons against civilian population.
The Syrian authorities have repeatedly said that they never used chemical weapons against civilians or terrorists, and that the nation’s entire chemical arsenal had been destroyed under the control of the OPCW.