News / Middle East

    Israel Says No Proof Poison Gas Used in Syria

    Free Syria Army fighters move through a hole in a wall during a fight with forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad at the front line in Aleppo December 24, 2012.
    Free Syria Army fighters move through a hole in a wall during a fight with forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad at the front line in Aleppo December 24, 2012.
    Reuters
    Israel voiced doubt on Tuesday about the accuracy of Syrian activists' reports that chemical weapons had been used against rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

    "We have seen reports from the opposition. It is not the first time. The opposition has an interest in drawing in international military intervention,'' Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Army Radio. "As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or
     proof that [chemical weapons] have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern,'' he said.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gathered activist accounts on Sunday of what they said was a poison gas attack in the city of Homs. The reports are difficult to verify, as the government restricts media access in Syria.

     The Observatory, a British-based group with a network of activists across Syria, said those accounts spoke of six rebel fighters who died after inhaling smoke on the front line of Homs's urban battleground. It said it could not confirm that poison gas had been used and called for an investigation.

    Syria has said it would never use chemical weapons against its citizens.

    Asked about images purported to show patients being treated for possible gas poisoning, Yaalon said: ``I'm not sure that what we're seeing in the photos is the result of the use of chemical weapons. ''It could be other things,`` he said, without elaborating.

    On Sunday, senior Israeli defence official Amos Gilad said Syria's chemical weapons were still secure despite the fact that Assad had lost control of parts of the country.

    As Syria's southern neighbor, Israel has been concerned about chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamist militants or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, cautioning it could intervene to stop such developments. 

    • A child uses a megaphone to lead others in chanting Free Syrian Army slogans during a demonstration in Bustan Al-Qasr, Aleppo, Syria, January 4, 2013.
    • Demonstrators step on a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest against his regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, January 4, 2013.
    • Damaged buildings and shops with members of the Syrian army patrolling in the distance in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Men stand amidst wreckage and debris after a car bomb exploded at a crowded gas station in Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus, in this handout photograph released by SANA on January 3, 2013.
    • A father reacts after the death of two of his children whom activists said were killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters stand near a fire after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Residents wear masks as they search for bodies after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army stand behind a machine gun turret with a flag reading "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger" in Aleppo's Bustan Al Qaser district, Syria, January 2, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter asks a child to move away from his house's window as a security measure in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district December 30, 2012.
    • A boy watches men dig graves for future casualties of Syria's civil conflict at Sheikh Saeed cemetery in Azaz city, December 30, 2012.

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