Russia dismisses claims of striking Syrian city in Idlib province

Russia has strongly denied reports that its warplanes conducted deadly airstrikes that killed around two dozen people in a militant-held city in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

“The statements of anonymous representatives of the White Helmets organization financed by Britain and the US about an alleged strike by Russian planes on a market in Maaret al-Numan (the province of Idlib) are a fake news story,” said a statement by Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the Western-backed White Helmets “aid” group said that a Russian airstrike in the densely-populated city had killed 20 people and wounds some 50 more.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also blamed the Russian jets for the strike and raised the death toll to 27 and the wounded to 45 people in the “wholesale vegetable market, where the attack took place.

“The Russian air force was not carrying out any missions in this part of Syria,” further said the Russian defense ministry’s statement.

The UK-based White Helmets group, projected by the West as “civil defense workers,” was established by former British Army officer James Le Mesurier in 2014.

The self-styled volunteer rescue group has been repeatedly accused of acting as the media arm for Takfiri terrorist groups, and charged with staging false flag chemical attacks in a bid to prompt Western military intervention in Syria.

The UK, Canada, and Germany have expressed interest in accepting the White Helmets as refugees.

Russia started an aerial bombardment campaign against militants in Syria on a request from Syria’s elected government in September 2015.

Together with Iran’s military advisory assistance and the Russian help, the Syrian military has retaken almost the entire country from the militants.

Idlib is a final flash point and the last bastion for foreign-backed militants.

The Syrian army is in the midst of an offensive, which began more than two months ago, in the militant-held province to liberate it from the grip of Takfiri terrorists. 

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