News / Middle East

Syrian Govt., Rebels Accuse Each Other on Chemical Weapons

In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.
In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
The international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders says 3,600 people have been treated for symptoms consistent with a chemical weapons attack in Syria.  The group says 355 people died, but it can't determine who was behind the attack.  Syria's rebel movement is blaming government forces while the government blames the rebels.

Syrian state TV has accused rebel forces of carrying out a chemical weapons attack saying chemical weapons were found in tunnels captured from rebel forces. Government media claim the rebels used the weapons “as their last card” because they were “under pressure from a government offensive.”

The government report also showed gas masks it claimed were captured in the rebel-held district of Joubar, along with chemicals it alleged were "made in Saudi Arabia." The TV went on to say that 30 government soldiers were wounded in Wednesday's attack, but gave no proof.

Free Syrian Army Commander Selim Idriss, denied the charges.  He said the government launched the attack on rebel held suburbs “in retaliation for an assassination attempt” against Syrian President Bashar al Assad at the end of Ramadan.

The rebel commander says Assad met with his security chiefs to plan the recent rocket attack following the attack on Assad's motorcade on August 8. He claims that one of Assad's top generals was wounded in that attack.

Idriss went on to argue that Assad ordered a plan to be drawn up to attack Damascus' eastern suburbs with chemical weapons, since those responsible for the attempt on his life were based there. He also claims there is irrefutable proof that government forces were behind the attack.

He names two government officers behind the alleged attack, claiming that the rockets used to carry it out were fired from (government-held) Mazzeh Airport. He also claims that foreign governments have irrefutable evidence of who fired the rockets from satellite images.

U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane arrived in Damascus several hours before the volley of accusations. Her mission, according to U.N. officials, is to convince Syrian leaders to allow weapons inspectors present in the capital to visit the sites of the alleged chemical attacks.

Syrian state TV quoted Information Minister Omran Zohbi as saying that the government was “cooperating with the weapons inspectors very closely.” U.S. President Barack Obama has called on top U.S. military officials to look into a potential military response to the alleged attacks.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid