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Syrian rebels 'used unknown chemicals’ against civilians in Idlib – state news agency

Published time: April 30, 2013 15:43
Edited time: May 01, 2013 12:28
Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they move towards their positions during an infiltration operation in Aleppo's neighbourhood of Salaheddine, which is partly held by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, April 29, 2013. (Reuters)

Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they move towards their positions during an infiltration operation in Aleppo's neighbourhood of Salaheddine, which is partly held by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, April 29, 2013. (Reuters)

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.