Rebel forces in Syria
claim that the Syrian army, loyal to President Bashar Assad,
has used phosphorus bombs
against them, even though such weapons are illegal according to international law. Rebel forces have uploaded videos showing bombs being fired as well as the damage caused by the alleged phosphorus shells, though no injuries or casualties were reported. The claims join earlier reports by rebels of a fatality caused by an unknown chemical.
Meanwhile, a neutral Syrian news agency reported Thursday that Assad's security detail has been reinforced in light of rising fears that an attempt will be made on his life. The UN's special envoy visited Syria and called for a political solution - the creation of a transitional government until an election could be held.
Arabic-language Sky News has reported that opposition sources have claimed that the president's forces have dropped phosphorus bombs on a town near Damascus. Phosphorus bombs are illegal according to international law.
Rebels have posted a video allegedly showing the town directly after the phosphorus bombing. In the video one can see numerous small fires as well as white smoke, but no fotage of the actual bombing, which produces a highly recognizable trail of white smoke, can be seen.
However, in an additional video released by the opposition's YouTube page, a helicopter dropping a bomb which creates the same white smoke trails can be seen. However, in this video, the aftermath of the bombing on the ground is not presented. The video's reliability or location has not been confirmed in light of the regime's restriction on foreign, as well as local media.
This is not the first time the opposition has made such claims. Just this month the international Human Rights Watch
claimed that Assad's army has used incendiary bombs. Such bombs contain highly flammable chemicals such as napalm, thermite, or phosphorus which can cause fires, lead to chemical burns or damage airways.
In the meantime, conventional warfare continues in full swing. The Syria Observatory of Human Rights,
an opposition group, has said that clashes between rebel and government forces were reported today in the Idlib region, sparking retaliatory aerial attacks by Assad's forces. The organization, which is courtly located in the UK and relies on a network of activists on the ground in Syria, has reported 49 deaths throughout the country today, among them 11 rebels and 16 soldiers in the Idlib area.
The ceaseless fighting has yet to exhaust some in the international community who continue to call for a solution. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that a peaceful solution must be reached so as to stop the bloodshed. However, he noted that the chances of forging a solution to the Syrian conflict based on a June agreement by world powers that called for a transitional government are decreasing.
On the other hand, the UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi,
who is currently visiting Damascus and has met with President Assad, has called for a transitional government. At the end of a five-day visit to the country, Brahimi said that such a government should be set up and it should rule until elections can be held.
A Syrian website has quoted unnamed sources as saying that security surrounding Assad has been beefed up. According to the report, Assad no longer sleeps in his bedroom in the presidential palace, and instead switches bedrooms on a daily basis. Additionally, it reported that due to fears that Assad will be poisoned, the ingredients for his meals are purchased through a number of retailers and that one of his bodyguards is now charged with tasting the president's food some two hours prior to his meals.