The Russian military says that militants in northwestern Syria have launched an attack on Syrian government forces.
Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, the head of the Russian military's Reconciliation Center in Syria, said the al-Qaida-linked militants started the offensive, which included tanks, in the province of Idlib on Tuesday (local time).
He said the Syrian army was fighting back.
Kupchishin said that militants captured by the Syrian army spoke of a plan to stage a fake chemical attack in the towns of Saraqib and Jarjanaz and blame them on government forces. He claimed that the militants had created a special so-called "Chemical Wing" to produce and stockpile toxic agents.