Syria: US, Israel, Turkey to blame for past, future chemical attacks

Syria's Foreign Minister pens letters to UN heads accusing foes of having hand in chemical attacks in embattled country.

April 15, 2014 13:57
2 minute read.
A UN chemical weapons expert, inspects the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

UN chemical weapons inspectors in Syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Syrian government has blamed various foes of Damascus - including Israel and the US - for the string of reported chemical attacks in the embattled country over the past year along with any that might occur in the future, Syrian state news agency SANA reported Tuesday.

Both the Damascus regime and rebel forces, embattled in a three-year-old civil war, have blamed the other side for sporadic chemical attacks.

The Syrian Foreign Minister has reportedly penned letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council seeking to absolve forces loyal to President Bashar Assad of perpetrating toxic attacks, including one on August 21, 2013 that killed hundreds of civilians in the Ghouta district near Damascus.

"Reports, studies and documented researches abound as to the involvement of the US, Turkey and several other countries, whether directly or indirectly, in these appalling carnages in Syria, including Khan al-Assal on March 15, 2013,'' read the letter that also listed Israel, France, Saudi Arabia and terrorist groups as hanging a hand in the attacks.

The report stated the the Syrian Foreign Ministry had submitted information to the UN heads accusing opposition forces of trying to "frame" the government.

On Saturday, the Syrian regime and opposition forces accused each other of carrying out a chemical attack on the village of Kafr Zeita, located in the country’s western-central province of Hama.

Last Monday, an Israeli security source confirmed that the Assad regime had used a non-lethal chemical weapon on March 27 on the outskirts of Damascus. The source said he could confirm claims made by Syrian rebels and doctors last month that a substance had been used on rebel fighters in Harasta, an outlying region of the Syrian capital, adding that the chemical “neutralizes [threats] but does not kill.”

A second alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime occurred in the same area within days of the first attack, according to Syrian opposition sources, though the Israeli security source said he could not confirm the report.

Syria has destroyed the majority of its chemical weapon production centers and is in the midst of transporting existing arms from storage sites to ships in Latakia to remove the substances and destroy them, according to Israeli security assessments.

The disarmament efforts, which have been stepped up in recent weeks, are being managed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Israel is expected to closely monitor the situation to try and see whether Assad attempts to secretly keep some chemical arms.

Prior to the disarmament program, Syria had amassed the world’s largest stockpile of VX nerve agents, Sarin and mustard gas.

In August 2013, a chemical attack on a rebel-held area north of Damascus left 1,400 civilians dead. The massacre led to a Russian- brokered disarmament agreement that saw Assad agree to give up the unconventional arms in exchange for avoiding a US military strike.

Yasser Okbi and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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