News / Middle East

US Investigating Possible Chemical Attack in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad chats with people during his visit to Ein al-Tinah village, northeast of Damascus, April 20, 2014.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad chats with people during his visit to Ein al-Tinah village, northeast of Damascus, April 20, 2014.
VOA News
U.S. officials say they have indications that toxic chemicals were used in a rebel area of Syria this month.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the alleged attack in the western village of Kafr Zita involved an industrial chemical that was probably chlorine.
 
"We are examining allegations that the government was responsible. We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat very seriously. And we are working to determine what happened. We will continue consulting and sharing information with key partners, including of course at the OPCW," said Carney.
 
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is working with the United Nations to rid Syria of its declared stockpile of such weapons. The OPCW said this week that 80 percent of those chemicals have been removed from the country or destroyed.
 
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that chlorine was not on the list of chemicals that Syria declared last year when it agreed to destroy the arms under international pressure.
 
Washington and its allies say Assad's forces unleashed sarin gas last year, killing hundreds of civilians. The Syrian government said it was the opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons.
 
French President Francois Hollande said France also had indications that chemical weapons are still being used in Syria.
 
Meanwhile, the United Nations is expressing concern about Syria's plans to hold a presidential election on June 3.
 
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, told reporters Monday that the vote goes against an international outline for bringing a political solution in Syria.
 
"Both the secretary-general and the joint special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances, amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for the political solution that the country so urgently needs. Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva communiqué. We will nonetheless continue to search and build upon any opening for a solution to the tragedy in Syria," said Dujarric.
 
The 2012 Geneva document calls for a transitional government for Syria, which would then hold fresh elections.
 
The election that the government announced Monday will give President Bashar al-Assad the chance to win a third seven-year term in office. The opposition trying to oust him from power immediately dismissed the vote as a farce.
 
Assad has been in power since 2000, when he took office following the death of his father, who ruled Syria for 30 years. 
 
The president won his second term in 2007, taking 97 percent of the vote in an election boycotted by the opposition. He was the only candidate on the ballot.
 
Assad has been battling rebels in a conflict that began as peaceful protests in March 2011 and quickly grew into a civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people, mostly civilians. 
 
Another 2.6 million people have fled Syria to surrounding countries. The war has displaced more than 6.5 million people within Syria.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid