Rebels Behind Previous Syrian Chemical Weapons Attacks
August 26, 2013
Russia Today News
UN human rights investigators have spoken to the victims of Syria's civil war and gathered medical testimonies that point to the Syrian rebels having used sarin nerve gas. Meanwhile, allegations of its use by the government remain unsubstantiated. Opposition fighters allegedly used unknown chemicals against residents in the town of Saraqib and in the northwestern province of Idlib to later put the blame on Assad forces.
"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used [or] who used them."
-- President Barack Obama, April 29, 2013, responding to evidence that chemical weapons were used by Assad's opponents
Russia Disputes Allegation that Syrian
Government Used Chemical Weapons
Russia Today News
Flashback: Syria Rebels Used Sarin Nerve Agent
UN Notes 'Concrete Suspicions' that
Syrian Rebels Used Chemical Weapons
(May 6, 2013) --
UN human rights investigators have spoken to the victims of Syria's civil war and gathered medical testimonies which point to the Syrian rebels having used sarin nerve gas, while any allegations of its use by the government remain unsubstantiated.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has concluded that no evidence of the use of sarin by Syria's government troops has so far been uncovered, said the lead commission member Carla Del Ponte on Sunday.
In an interview to Swiss-Italian television, Del Ponte revealed that the "investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated."
The new report now makes the long-standing accusations of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad look weaker: "This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," Del Ponte continued, though she has given no indication yet of where and when the nerve agent was used.
However, despite the apparent turn-around, the investigation headed by Carla Del Ponte in Geneva is still separate from the one initiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The latter has stalled, for the time being.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged against the escalation in the region.
"We insist that this most important issue and escalating of the anti-Syrian emotion not be politicized," the official statement said. "We confirm it's inappropriate to delay -- under created and dangerous pretexts -- the response to Syria's call onto the UN in connection with the use of chemical weapons by the forces of the opposition in March of this year."
March saw two alleged chemical attacks take place in Aleppo and the capital Damascus, while December of last year saw one in Homs as well, with accusations being thrown back and forth between the government and the opposition.
The US has been insinuating that all such transgressions are by the Syrian government, and has been getting more insistent on using any available pressure point s to weaken Bashar Assad, the latest being a threat by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that the country may be on the verge of openly sending weapons to the Syrian rebels.
There was also talk of a 'red line' being crossed if any evidence pointing to the government's use of chemical agents was discovered. President Barack Obama has warned that this would be a "game-changer" for the Syrian president. He added to this at a recent conference in Mexico, saying "As we've seen evidence of further bloodshed, potential use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, what I've said is that we're going to look at all options."
Yet, the information from the UN probe that alleges that chemical weapons were in fact being used by the rebels has coincided with Israel carrying out two bombings of Syria within a space of 72 hours, with the US preferring to leave the incident without comment.
The United States has previously said it has "varying degrees of confidence" that president Assad has used chemical weapons against his population.
The Syrian uprising, which has been ongoing for two years now, has claimed over 70,000 lives and displaced upwards of 1.2 million people into neighboring countries.
Syrian Rebels 'Used Unknown Chemicals'
Against Civilians in Idlib
(April 30, 2013) – Syrian opposition fighters have allegedly used unknown chemicals against residents in the town of Saraqib in the northwestern province of Idlib to later put the blame on Assad forces, SANA news agency reports citing a government official.
The source stated that on Monday "terrorists" collected residents of Saraqib near the southern entrance to the town and made them open "plastic bags" containing some unknown powder, SANA reported on Tuesday.
As a result, some people suffered "suffocation, tremors and problems with breathing."
Later, militants took the injured to hospitals on the territory of Turkey with the goal of accusing President Bashar Assad's army of using chemical weapons, the official said.
Later in the day, the report was confirmed by Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Ja'afari.
"Today or tomorrow you'll hear from the Turkish government that they have new evidence that the Syrian government used a chemical weapon in Saraqib," he told a media conference, cites Itar-Tass.
This comes amid growing concerns from the international community about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In March the Syrian government said the rebels used a rocket with a chemical warhead in Aleppo, in the northwest of the country, killing 25 people and injuring over 80.
The opposition immediately denied the accusations, alleging that regime forces attacked the Khan al-Assal village in Aleppo province with Scud missiles containing chemical agents.
The US and the UN have repeatedly warned Assad's government against deploying its chemical arms stockpile. Damascus has maintained that it would never use such weapons against its own people.
So far, none of the alleged chemical attacks was officially confirmed and it is unclear who launched the attacks if they did really occur.
The UK and the US claim to have evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria -- accusations that Damascus has labeled "barefaced lies."
"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used [or] who used them," President Barack Obama stated on Tuesday.
The UN has been urging the Syrian government to give its fact-finding team full access to sites where chemical weapons allegedly were used. The mission was established after a formal request from the Syrian government to investigate the Aleppo case. However, the team has been on stand-by on in Cyprus after Damascus refused to let them in about three weeks ago.
The reason behind denying them access was that they "do not trust the American and British experts from a political point of view," Syrian information minister Omran Ahed al-Zouabi told RT. Damascus said it would want to see Russian experts among the team to ensure the investigation would be unbiased.
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