Chemical Weapon Fired in Syria: Report
Rebels blame regime, regime blames rebels; no verification yet
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Mar 19, 2013 7:42 AM CDT
Syrian citizens carry an injured man from a damaged building that was hit by a Syrian forces airstrike on the al-Marjeh neighborhood, of Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday March 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

(Newser) – Both the government and rebels in Syria say a chemical weapon has been fired—but each side blames the other, the AP reports. Official Syrian news said "terrorists" (its term for the rebels) blasted a rocket "containing chemical materials" in Aleppo province today, killing 15, mostly civilians. Meanwhile, a rebel-linked media group cites "suffocation and poison" from a missile carrying chemical agents, and an activist notes that rebels recently took control of the area. "Why would the Free Syrian Army bomb themselves with a chemical weapon?" he asked. Adds a Reuters photographer on the scene: "They said that people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine. People were dying in the streets and in their houses." Neither accusation could be verified. (Meanwhile, the opposition has elected a new leader—who happens to be a longtime Texas resident.)

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Mar 19, 2013 8:19 PM CDT
This has the CIA written all over it! Look, it's a little strange that neither the Syrian Regime nor the rebels know who did this. To me, it sounds like a BLACK-OPS!!! This is how the CIA will get us into another war. They set off a chemical weapon. Disgusting!
Mar 19, 2013 2:40 PM CDT
Let the weapon rip the quicker Syria, Assad and rebels( islamic militants) are wiped from the earth the better. You know as soon as these rebels get their hands on these weapons they will not hesitate for a moment to release them to win so who is better?
Mar 19, 2013 1:32 PM CDT
Armed Forces on carry out operations against armed terrorist groups in Homs countryside A military source told SANA that the army targeted terrorists' hideouts in the areas of al-Rastan, Talbeiseh, al-Ghanto, Bait Rabe'a, al-Amryeh, al-Bouida al-Sharqyeh, al-Masoudyeh and al-Hamydyeh, killing scores of terrorists and destroying their vehicles, some of which equipped with machineguns, in addition to destroying motorcycles used to transport terrorists. An army unit eliminated several terrorist groups' leaders in the areas of Mazare Jouseh, Harat Bait Amon and al-Qseir. Terrorists Abi al-Waled and Abi al-Hassan were identified among the dead. In Palmyra, the Syrian Arab Army clashed with an armed terrorist group that tried to attack a military checkpoint and report inflicting heavy loses upon the terrorists. Al-Jaafari.. Syria Supports Global Approach for Community Free of Using Force Syria's permanent Envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said Syria supports the world approach towards building an international community free of using force that can prevail by implementing the principles of the UN charter that are based on justice, equality and peace. "Syria is ready to take part in an international effort to achieve that goal and arrive to a concluding document that meets the aspirations of our people and government. Al-Jaafari spoke in a speech at the United Nations' Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty held on Monday and added that any future treaty on Arms' trade has to reiterate the states' right according to the UN charter particularly item 51, that enables the acquisition of all suitable means to preserve national security, alongside stressing the people's right of self-defense and self-determination. Al-Jaafari singled out Israel's involvement in the illegal trafficking of arms throughout the world which encourages drug gangs and separatist movements. He reflected on Syria's suffering from terrorism and sabotage and how it is based on extremist and takfiri fatwas issued by instigators which are hosted by Arab, regional and western states. "Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, are carrying out the acts of terror in Syria... these groups would have never sprouted up without financing, arming and training supplied by a number of Arab, regional and western countries," said al-Jaafari. He added that recent statements from a number of countries to supply arms to terrorist groups in Syria is a matter of concern especially considering the nature and actual essence of those groups. "Those terrorist groups have carried out a number of explosions all over Syria and shattered the lives of thousands of civilians while injuring many others by using weapons that are given to them by well-known sides. I refuse to name them at this meeting in that they don't deserve even that level of respect." Al-Jaafari concluded by saying that '...the Arms Trade Treaty we all aspire to reach, should guarantee that weapons would not reach individuals, armed groups, mercenaries or terrorists who pose a threat to international peace.' Al-Halqi: Government Working to Rebuild what has been Destroyed by Terrorist Groups Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi said that meetings with the youth inspire optimism and hope in a better future for Syria. Al-Halqi's remarks came during a meeting with a delegation representing youth who staged a sit-in outside the Cabinet building to voice support for the political program for solving the crisis and rejection of foreign interference by Arab and foreign countries which is intended to fragment Syria and tear apart the unity binding the Syrians. Later, Dr. al-Halqi presented a review of the Syrian economy and the vandalism acts targeting the economic, service and development facilities by armed terrorist groups, indicating that the government is working hard to rebuild what has been destroyed by the armed groups. Al-Halqi said the Syrian currency is stable, affirming that the government has adopted a package of procedures to ensure its stability. ''In parallel, the ministerial committee tasked with implementing the political program is organizing meetings with representatives of all spectrums of the Syrian people, which have yielded visions and ideas enhancing dialogue,'' al-Halqi added. He hailed the Syrian armed forces who are confronting armed terrorist groups to restore security and stability to the homeland. For their part, the delegation members expressed appreciation of the government's efforts that made economic steadfastness possible against all odds under extraordinary circumstances, affirming that the youth organizations will exert all efforts for consolidating the culture of dialogue. Al-Halqi affirmed that the challenges facing the government are uphill, yet it is capable of coping with them. Use of chemical weapons, "first act" by opposition interim government Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described militants’ use of chemical weapons as the "first act" by the so-called opposition interim government. The Syrian minister also said that Turkey and Qatar, which support militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, bore "legal, moral and political responsibility" for the chemical attack in the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday. At least 25 people were killed and 86 others injured after militants fired rocks containing "poisonous gases" into Aleppo’s Khan al-Assal village. Women and children are reported to be among the victims. According to a Reuters photographer in Aleppo, victims of attack were suffering breathing problems. "I saw mostly women and children. They (witnesses) said that people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine," he said adding that "people were dying in the streets and in their houses." Foreign-backed militants, who had threatened to use chemical weapons against the army government forces and Assad supporters a few months ago, have denied using chemical weapons and have accused government forces of being behind the attack.