The Atlantic: Defending Assad, Russia calls chemical attack “fake news”

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As Russia tells it, reports of an attack over the weekend in the Syrian town of Douma that left victims’ mouths foaming and corneas burned do not suggest what the United States and its European allies suspect: that the Russian-backed Syrian government once again used chemical weapons against its own people.

Instead, according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, they amount to “fake news” spread by the White Helmets. The group of Syrian first responders, which was recently celebrated in a documentary and has provided reliable accounts of such attacks in the past, is in Russia’s view actually working “hand in glove with the terrorists” and “other pseudo-humanitarian organizations headquartered in the U.K. and the U.S.” The Kremlin characterized the White Helmets’ report, which it cosigned with an organization that provides medical services to Syrians, as an effort to prevent the Syrian army from “liberating” Douma and justify military intervention by foreign powers.

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