Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, moved several chemical weapons containers from the town of Maarrat Misrin in northern Idlib to the city of Jisr al-Shughur in the northwestern part of the governorate, a local source revealed to the Russian news agency Sputnik.
According to the source, the containers, which contained Chlorine and Sarin, were transferred to Jisr al-Shughur in a refrigerated truck. The shipment was reportedly escorted by members of the White Helmets and militants of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP).
Earlier this month, the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria revealed that a cell of ISIS stole two chlorine cylinders from a position of HTS in the northern Hama countryside. Two days later, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) warned that militants are plotting chemical weapons provocations in Idlib.
Russia has repeatedly accused Western countries of supplying HTS with dangerous materials in order to provoke a staged chemical attack that would justify a military action by the U.S. and its allies against Damascus government forces. This plan was apparently put on hold after the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement on Idlib. However, the chemical weapons remained in the hands of radical militants.