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Chemical Weapons Used in Syria? Both Sides Say Yes

The Syrian government and Syrian rebels and activists traded accusations on using chemical weapons in the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday.

Whether chemical weapons had been used could not be immediately confirmed.

The Syrian rebel forces are not known to possess chemical weapons, while the government has large stockpiles. There has long been a fear on all sides — in the Syrian government, in neighboring Israel and among the rebels’ western backers — that rebel groups could seize chemical weapons, but it is unclear whether any such weapons have been loaded onto rockets or missiles for use, or whether the rebels would be able to fire them if they were.

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, said “terrorists” fired a rocket “containing chemical materials” into the Khan al-Assal area of Aleppo, and a government official told state television that the episode would be reported to human rights organizations and to countries supporting the rebels.

But a senior rebel commander, Qassim Saadeddine, who is also a spokesman for the Higher Military Council in Aleppo, blamed Assad’s forces for any chemical strike. “We were hearing reports from early this morning about a regime attack on Khan al-Assal, and we believe they fired a Scud with chemical agents,” he told Reuters by telephone from Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based watchdog group, said witnesses heard over walkie-talkies that 26 people were killed, including 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians, after a rocket landed on Khan al-Assal. Activists said the government tried to hit the police academy there, which was recently taken by rebel forces, with a Scud missile, but it accidentally fell on a government-controlled area instead. . .


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