1200 GMT July 17, 2018
According to Syria’s official news agency SANA on Tuesday, the clandestine workshop was uncovered near recently-liberated al-Shefounieh town in the volatile enclave as government soldiers were combing the area for possible improvised explosive devices planted by the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group prior to its defeat in the town and its suburbs.
The report, citing an unnamed military commander, further said that the plant, which consists of a two-story building with a basement located between Douma, enclave’s largest town, and al-Shefounieh, adding that it included a lab for making toxic chemicals containing equipment of “Saudi origin” and materials and protection gear of “Western origin.”
The commander further revealed that the lab contained vials for mixing chemicals as well as vats and mixing and heating equipment, in addition to a variety of materials used to make lethal chemicals and explosives, including substances containing chlorine, as well as Saudi manuals and booklets with the logo of the Takfiri outfit.
According to the commander, the workshop had housed high-tech equipment and installations, indicating “the involvement” of European and Saudi Arabia’s experts and chemists.
For the past several years, the flashpoint enclave, home to some 400,000 people, has been under the control of multiple foreign-backed terror groups, particularly the so-called Jaish al-Islam outfit and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which have practically captivated the civilians and use them as human shield against the government’s liberating forces.
The Syrian army troops, backed by pro-government forces, have launched a full-scale offensive to crush the terror outfits, which constantly launch mortar attacks against residential neighborhoods in and around Damascus, killing and wounding dozens of people.
Furthermore, the Ghouta-based militants are trying to prevent civilians from leaving the enclave as they constantly target the safe passages of al-Wafideen and Jisreen with shells and explosive bullets, killing a number of people so far.
Following the alleged use of chemical weapons in the enclave in January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired on Tuesday, claimed that the Syrian government could be using chemical weapons, accusing Moscow of being responsible for the victims because of its military engagement in Syria.
The Russian Foreign Ministry at the time said Washington was spreading mass propaganda against the Kremlin in a bid to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the US was uncorroborated.
The Syrian government has time and again stated that it had completely destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles, confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and that the chemical attacks are carried out by different foreign-backed militants in the Arab country.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 511,000 people have been killed in Syria since the onset of the foreign-backed militancy some seven years ago. It added in its Monday’s report that it had succeeded in identifying only more than 350,000 of those killed.