US examining allegations that Syrian government used chemical weapons again

State Department says the US has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used earlier this month in Kfar Zeita.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
April 21, 2014 21:00
1 minute read.
Chemical materials and gas masks are pictured in a warehouse at the front line of clashes in Syria.

Syria Chemical materials and gas masks 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON - The United States has indications of the use of a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, in Syria this month and is examining indications that the Syrian government was responsible, the US State Department said on Monday.

"We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical" in the town of Kfar Zeita, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

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"We are examining allegations that the government was responsible," she told reporters. 

Earlier this month the Syrian regime and opposition forces accused each other of carrying out a chemical attack in Kfar Zeita, located in the embattled country’s western-central province of Hama.

Opposition activists reported that dozens of residents suffered from symptoms of suffocation after air units loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad targeted the town with explosive barrels allegedly containing toxic material.

Yesterday, French President Francois Hollande said that his country had "information" that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has continued using chemical weapons, although Paris lacked proof, AFP reported.

"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," AFP quoted Hollande as telling the Europe 1 radio station.



Asked about recent reports that the Damascus regime was still using chemical weapons in the embattled country, Hollande said: "What I do know is what we have seen from this regime is the horrific methods it is capable of using and the rejection of any political transition".

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1, that so far unverified, "indications" were present of recent chemical attacks in Syria.

According to the report, Fabius said the current signs pointed toward chemical attacks in northwestern Syria near the border with Lebanon that were "very deadly," but "much less significant than those in Damascus a few months ago".

At the beginning of April, an Israeli security source confirmed that the Assad regime had used a non-lethal chemical weapon at the end of March 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.”

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