Vladimir Putin says he expects ‘fake’ gas attacks in Damascus to justify further US strikes on Syria

Syrian rebels are plotting to mount a poison gas attack in Damascus and blame it on Bashar al-Assad’s government to provide a pretext for further US missile strikes and possible regime change, Vladimir Putin has claimed.

Speaking in Moscow at a joint press conference with Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president, Mr Putin claimed that “a number” of sources had told him about such plans.