Russia says British-made smoke grenades found in Syria

Civilians walking in the former Syrian town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus on April 17, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia said on Thursday (April 19) that Syrian government forces found German "chlorine containers" and British "smoke grenades" in the country's Eastern Ghouta, an ex-rebel enclave that was taken over by regime forces in April.

"In the liberated territories of Eastern Ghouta, Syrian government troops found containers with chlorine - the worst kind of chemical weapon - from Germany, as well as smoke grenades made in - attention - Salisbury," Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Salisbury is the British town where a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned on March 4.

The incident sparked a bitter diplomatic crisis between Moscow and London. Britain says Russia was behind the attack on the pair, a charge Russia furiously denies.

Moscow, an ally of the Syrian regime, has long claimed an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma this month was "staged" by Syrian rebels and the civil defence organisation, the White Helmets.

Western powers accuse Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons against civilians in Douma.

The United States, France and Britain carried out air strikes on what they said were Assad's chemical weapons installations in response.

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