‘I was ordered to use chemical weapons’

Syrian army Brig.-Gen. Zaher Al-Saket cites the order to use chemical weapons as the reason for his defection.

April 30, 2013 06:50
1 minute read.
A fighter from the Free Syrian Army wears a gas mask in January 2013.

Syrian free army gas mask370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)


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Syrian army Brig.-Gen. Zaher Al-Saket, speaking during an Al Arabiya TV interview on Saturday, cited the order to use chemical weapons as the reason for his defection.

“I was given an order to use these substances, but I replaced them with liquid bleach. This was the reason for my defection from Assad’s army,” said Saket, who was in charge of chemical warfare for the 5th division.

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Saket said that, at the beginning of the conflict, the Syrian regime used tear gas to disperse demonstrations, but later used lethal chemical weapons – including sarin gas, VX gas, and mustard gas – in more than 13 locations.

The former general also denied claims that the Syrian opposition used chemical weapons, stating that they lack the capability to do so.

As for the origin of the chemical weapons, Saket said that some came from the former USSR while others are currently in production. The weapons, he added, are being stored in fortified places in the mountains.

“The chemical weapons are kept in several places: In Aleppo, in the Hama region, in Damascus, and in Latakia. The chemical weapons are there,” he said.

“Iranian experts are working with Syrian officers in the Mazzeh military airport. They manufacture incubators for the toxic substances, which will be loaded onto warheads carried by airplanes. When these warheads hit the ground, they release a toxic cloud,” he said, according to a transcript of the interview that was posted on the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

In the meantime, statements from members of the US administration have not expressed a definitive confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but US President Barack Obama is seeking confirmation of the claims along with the United Nations, according to a report by Bloomberg. According to ABC News, there are growing calls for US intervention, but there seems to be a consensus that there should be no troops on the ground.

Israel, France, and Britain have claimed that Syria has used chemical weapons.

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