Al-Jazeera rebuffs Russian accusations it 'faked Syria chemical attack'
Al Jazeera has fought back at accusations made in Russian state media that it "fabricated" last month's chemical attack in the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhoun.
The Qatari-based broadcaster said in a statement on Thursday that Sputnik's report was "fake news" and "propaganda", vehemently denying the claims.
At least 92 people including 30 children died from exposure to sarin in Khan Sheikhoun and hundreds more were injured in an attack that has been blamed on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"It is known that Sputnik is always used as a propaganda tool to defend the Syrian regime on an ongoing basis and has even published earlier reports denying the most recent chemical strike," it said.
"Al Jazeera warns that the timing of the publication of such a false report may be a prelude to a real attack on civilians in Syria under the pretext of their published news."
The broadcaster added that it will take legal action against Sputnik and challenged it to prove its allegations of orchestrating the "false flag operation".
The Russian news agency earlier on Thursday had published the report, which claimed Al Jazeera stringers, working under orders from a "European country", had staged the graphic footage of the aftermath of the attack.
An unnamed source told the Russian media outlet that "30 fire engines and ambulances, as well as 70 local residents with children transported from a refugee camp were used in the filming across three locations in Idlib province".
"The 'effectiveness' of the White Helmets' TV-spectacle of accusing Syrian authorities of attacking civilians in Khan Sheikhoun with sarin inspired terrorists to continue filming the fake 'series'," the source added.
Supporters of the Syrian regime have long unfoundedly accused the emergency response team known as The White Helmets of fabricating rescue footage and having links to extremist rebel groups.
A White House report said the chemical agent was delivered by Syrian Su-22 aircraft that took off from the Shayrat airfield, which was later bombed by US missiles in response to the attack.
The planes were in the vicinity of Khan Sheikhoun about 20 minutes before the attack began and vacated the area shortly after, the US report said.
French intelligence services have also said they have scientific proof that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack.
Assad has rejected accusations that his forces were behind the attack.