Erdogan: Assad using chemical weapons in Syria

Turkish PM says opposition dominating land war, but Assad maintaining superiority through chemical arms, air operations.

May 2, 2013 17:16
2 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

turkish PM Erdogan 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)

Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that the regime of Syrian President Basher Assad has used chemical weapons in his fight against opposition forces, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Erdogan's comments came after US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used during Syria's two year conflict, but that it was not yet known how the chemical weapons were used, when they were used and who used them. Erdogan stated Thursday that he would discuss the issue with Obama during his visit to Washington later this month.

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“We will discuss the use of chemical weapons during the meeting with President Obama. It is obvious that the Assad regime is using it,” Erdogan was quoted by Hurriyet as saying in an interview with Japanese media.

“The opposition dominates on land however Assad uses chemical weapons, war planes and helicopters. The only field the regime is superior in is air backed operations. The regime is living its final moments but we don’t know when it will topple. This is a situation that will happen suddenly,” Erdogan added.

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Local government officials in Turkey said Wednesday that the country was testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack.

The samples were sent to Turkey's forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border.

"We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons," Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters.

"So far I have not received confirmation from medical institutions but there is a possibility that the weapons were used and we have to act with caution in case," he said.

Sanverdi said the hospital in Reyhanli had taken emergency measures on Monday following the claims but that those had now been lifted. He added that Monday's patients had been brought from Idlib province in northern Syria.

Washington has long said it views the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a "red line", but was wary of the false intelligence that was used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq, it has said it wants proof before taking action.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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