Syria is making chemical-weapons claims of its own. State media today accused rebels of using chemical arms against government troops trying to storm a contested neighborhood of Damascus. State TV broadcast images of plastic jugs, gas masks, vials of an unspecified medication, explosives, and other items that it said were seized from rebel hideouts. It did not, however, show any video of soldiers reportedly affected by toxic gas in the fighting in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus. The claims, of course, follow an alleged gas attack by the army on rebel-held suburbs of the capital on Wednesday that activists say killed more than 130 people.
That attack has spurred demands for an independent investigation and renewed talk of potential international military action if chemical weapons were indeed used. In fact, just hours before the state media reports, the UN disarmament chief arrived in Damascus to press President Bashar al-Assad's regime to allow UN experts to investigate Wednesday's alleged attack. The state news agency said several troops who took part in today's offensive experienced severe trouble breathing or even "suffocation" after "armed terrorist groups used chemical weapons." The report mentioned no fatalities among the troops.