Rebels: Syria Dropped Chemical Weapons on Us

Opposition says hundreds dead as regime denies use of toxic gas

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2013 5:43 AM CDT | Updated Aug 21, 2013 7:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Syrian opposition groups say hundreds of people—Reuters says nearly 500—were killed today in chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. Videos uploaded to YouTube by activists show people, including many children, being treated in makeshift hospitals, reports the BBC, which has been unable to fully verify the videos but believes they are genuine. The videos show some victims having convulsions, while others appear to be having difficulty breathing.

The country's state-run news agency calls reports of the use of toxic gas "baseless" and accuses the rebels of trying to distract United Nations weapons inspectors who arrived in the country over the weekend. "We thought this regime would not use chemical weapons, at least these days with the presence of the UN inspectors," an activist who witnessed the aftermath of the attack and believes the death toll is in the hundreds tells the New York Times. "It is reckless. The regime is saying, 'I don’t care.'"

UN weapons inspectors arrive in Damascus on the weekend.
UN weapons inspectors arrive in Damascus on the weekend.   (AP Photo/AP Video)
Smoke rises after a government offensive in Damascus.
Smoke rises after a government offensive in Damascus.   (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)
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