US Looking Into Reports of Poison Gas in Syria

Both sides blame each other for alleged toxic gas attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2014 11:40 AM CDT
US Looking Into Reports of Poison Gas in Syria
This Friday, April 11, 2014 image made from amateur video, provided by Shams News Network, shows children on a bed at a hospital room in Kfar Zeita, some 125 miles north of Damascus, Syria.    (Uncredited)

The US ambassador to the United Nations said today that reports of a poison gas attack in a rural village north of Damascus were so far "unsubstantiated," adding that the United States was trying to establish what really happened before it considers a response. Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the alleged attack that reportedly injured scores of people Friday amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons. The details of what happened in Kfar Zeita, an opposition-held village in Hama province some 125 miles north of Damascus, remain murky, but opposition groups say dozens were hurt, while state-run Syrian television blamed a rebel group for the attack and said two people were killed and more than 100 injured.

Online videos posted by rebel activists showed pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at what appeared to be a field hospital. They suggested an affliction by some kind of poison—and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight. Meanwhile, heavy fighting raged today across many parts of the country. In the war-shattered northern city of Aleppo, activists said at least 29 people were killed over the weekend. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 16 rebels were among those who died in the overnight combat. At least 13 civilians also were killed when government aircraft dropped barrel bombs on the city's rebel-held districts. In the Syrian capital, Syrian President Bashar Assad said the conflict in Syria was shifting in the government's favor. (More Syria stories.)

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