Injured man in Aleppo
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Chemical weapons
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
President Assad
Photo: AP

Syria accuses rebels of firing chemical weapon

State news agency says 'terrorists' fired rocket containing chemical materials in Aleppo, killing 15 people. Rebels deny report, accuse regime of firing weapon

Syrian state media accused rebels of firing a chemical weapon for the first time on Tuesday in the north of the country, killing 15 people. Rebels quickly denied the report and accused regime forces of firing the weapon.


Neither of the accusations could immediately be verified.


Related stories:


The Syrian state news agency SANA said "terrorists" fired a rocket "containing chemical materials" into the area around the village of Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo. The regime regularly uses the term terrorists to refer to rebels fighting to overthrow authoritarian President Bashar Assad.


SANA said about 15 people, most of them civilians, were killed and a number of others were wounded.


פצועים בבית החולים. "התפתחות מסוכנת" (צילום: EPA)

'Dangerous development.' Injured at hospital (Photo: EPA)


An activist in the area said rebels had recently seized much of the village of Khan al-Assal including a facility that housed a military academy.


The Aleppo Media Center, affiliated with the rebels, said there were cases of "suffocation and poison" among civilians in Khan al-Assal after a surface-to-surface missile was fired at the area. It said in a statement the cases were "most likely" caused by regime forces' use of "poisonous gases."


(צילום: EPA)

Photo: EPA


An activist in Aleppo province who identified himself as Yassin Abu Raed, not his real name, confirmed the attack and said there were at least 40 cases of suffocation in the area and several deaths. But he said no details were available as casualties were being taken to a government controlled area in Aleppo.


Abu Raed declined to give his real name because of security concerns.


He said it did not make sense for the rebels to fire a chemical weapon at an area they had recently seized, and accused the government instead.


פצועים בהפצצה אווירית בחלב שלשום (צילום: AP)

Devastation in Aleppo after Sunday bombing (Photo: AP)


"Why would the Free Syrian Army bomb themselves with a chemical weapon?" he asked.


There has been long-standing concerns that Syria's chemical weapons would be used by one side or the other in the 2-yearold civil war.


US Secretary of State John Kerry said recently that the longer the war goes on, the greater the danger of its institutions collapsing and extremists getting their hands on the Arab country's vast chemical weapons arsenal.


The reported attack was in an area just east of the city of Aleppo that had seen fierce fighting for weeks before rebels took over a sprawling government complex there last month. The facility included several military posts and a police academy that Assad's forces have turned into a military base that regularly fires shells at nearby villages.


Russia also accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons in the attack on Tuesday and said it was an extremely alarming and dangerous development.


"According to information coming from Damascus, a case of the use of chemical weapons by the armed opposition was recorded early in the morning of March 19 in Aleppo province," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


The White House, however, said Tuesday it had no evidence to back up Assad's claim that Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons.


White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US is looking carefully at allegations that both sides are using chemical weapons. But he said he's skeptical of any claims made by the Syrian regime.


Carney says it's a serious concern for the US that the Assad regime could use such weapons. He says President Barack Obama believes that would be unacceptable and that there would be consequences.


AP, Reuters contributed to the report



  • Receive Ynetnews updates directly to your desktop


פרסום ראשון: 03.19.13, 13:51
 new comment
This will delete your current comment