News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Says Assad Forces Used 'Poison Gas'

People, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, are treated at a hospital in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.
People, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, are treated at a hospital in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
An amateur video showed an opposition activist clutching what appears to be the bodies of two newborns and accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of responsibility for their deaths.

Activists claim Syrian troops on Wednesday unleashed an artillery and rocket barrage that included some toxic agents against several Damascus suburbs.

The activists posted videos online showing scores of bodies of adults and children laid out on the floor of makeshift clinics with no visible signs of injuries.

Alleged casualty figures were contradictory with some opposition activists claiming that as many as 1,600 people were killed and others putting the death toll at several hundred.

The alleged attacks came several days after United Nations weapons inspectors arrived in Damascus to investigate previous alleged attacks of chemical weapon use by the government and rebels.

Top Syrian opposition leader George Sabra told a press conference in Istanbul that the Syrian government has shown disrespect for the inspectors and their mission.

"The Syrian government has mocked the inspectors by placing restrictive conditions on their ability to investigate. Evidence has either deteriorated or been destroyed and the Syrian government anticipates that any condemnation will be hollow," said Sabra.

  • Activists wear gas masks as they look for dead bodies and collect samples to check for chemical weapon use in Zamalka, Damascus, August 22, 2013.
  • An activist wearing a gas mask stands next to a dead dog as he looks for bodies to collect samples to check for chemical weapon use, in Zamalka, Damascus, August 22, 2013.
  • Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by toxic gas near Damascus, August 21, 2013.
  • A man sits in a hospital near two children who activists say were affected by toxic gas near Damascus, August 21, 2013.
  • People, affected by what activists say is toxic gas, are treated at a hospital in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.
  • A youth, affected by what activists say is toxic gas, is treated at a hospital near Damascus, August 21, 2013.
  • A Syrian military soldier holds his Ak-47 with a sticker of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Arabic that reads, "Syria is fine," as he stands guard at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, August 21, 2013.
  • A Syrian military soldier checks the trunk of a car at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, August 21, 2013.

A Syrian Army spokesman says government forces have not used chemical weapons against its own people but says that the government has a duty to pursue what he called “terrorists.”

"The accusations of chemical weapons use are part of an ugly media war waged by outside nations and media against Syria. The army has a duty to fight terrorism and protect its citizens. Rebel forces are making allegations in a desperate attempt to hide their defeat," he said.

Opposition activists made contradictory claims of what weapons may have been used in Wednesday's alleged attack with several claiming that long-range rockets were used and others alleging the use of smaller, multi-tube Grad rockets.

Syrian Information Minister Omran Zohbi, who has said on several occasions that Syria does not have chemical weapons, told journalists that the government would never use chemical weapons against its people:

"The military operations are taking place in the eastern suburbs of the capital and that the army is fighting terrorist groups. It would be illogical to use chemical weapons under such circumstances," said Zohbi.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
August 21, 2013 8:45 PM
It is too late for assad he has already lost because he has already commited criminal acts and he must face his crimes. He will never lead a country again and anything he does now in Syria is considered terrorist acts.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 21, 2013 2:49 PM
Syria is simply a state of confusion. It is as intriguing as it is interesting. In Syria the US can afford to fraternize with its arch enemy - al qaida and all the terrorist militant groups in the world finding a common ground to meet in Syria. In Syria, the US can afford to fund them and provide their social needs to fight Al Assad. Now the US has brought out in Assad the beast in a president. Before the Syrian Spring, Assad, though a good friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (or his proxy, Ahmadinejad), Hezbollah and Hamas, had been seen as a moderate willing to allow the Middle East peace take hold despite his connection with these extremists.

Now Assad has grown horns. Like the beast he is hungry for blood and more blood. He is backed by Russia and China to do it with impunity. He has Iran to fan his embers. He has Hezbollah to give him covering fire. Who is going to stop |Assad now? Not even the UN where his mentors will veto every legislation that might prove counter to his goals. Who will wrestle Syria from Assad? There is no need for a fret. After all he used to be a good boy to the West. Only show him a mellowing down and he will prove the good boy in him. That is only when the conflagration is over. But voice of reason: he must be preferred to the terrorist to win, otherwise an ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF SYRIA will greet the headlines - if the wars goes the other way.

August 21, 2013 11:35 AM
Syrians, see what is happening to you. Would you continue to kill your brothers, sisters, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, relatives and friends only because EU will investigate to know who is doing the killing? To me it will be a very big mistake to do. Surely if EU cares, let her help to stop the war instead of finding out who is using the chemical weapon. It is indeed true that you may not love or don't want the current president to continue his tenure, but see what is happening to the people who may have no business (Position) in government. Do you think war is the best way to resolving your difference? To me i say no because the same people you think are not properly care for by the government are the same people you are killing; if this is true, you and the president, who is doing more harm to the people?

If you think someone is helping you with guns and other war materials and you are considering this people to be doing good, to you i say it is a "Lia". This person equally hate as he/she hate the person you don't want to see in power. War is not the end to the problem instead it is the beginning to the problem. Therefore stop the war and called for election if you are the best choice for the Syrian, they will vote for you in an election. What you are doing is not democracy rather it is a destruction. If giving gun to fight for power is the best way to ascend, why the person who is giving the gun can use the same gun to get to power in his or her country. My brothers and sisters, these people don't love you. Stop the war now and forever live happily.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 21, 2013 3:01 PM
Hey FRANCIS EGU LANSANA from: VAHUN,LOFA, hold your peace! Who asked you to speak so? These people need to be busy otherwise they will be doing things that you - even you far from them - will regret. Let them keep busy, the EU, UN and AL will find who is using what in the war. Afterall the manufacturers of those weapons are actually looking for market, money, and they also want to cover up their sales of weapons to terrorists. How do they succeed if they don't use fools in Syria? Please keep your advice to yourself. Thanks any way.

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