19 March 2013, 19:15

Moscow alarmed by use of chemical weapons by Syrian armed opposition

сирия химическое оружие противогаз 2012 август коллаж

The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian armed opposition brings confrontation in that country to a new level, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Information  coming  from  Damascus  indicates  that  the  use  of chemical weapons  by the  armed opposition  was recorded  in the  Aleppo province early on March 19," the ministry said in a statement  available on its website.

Moscow sees  this  fact  as  "a  new  and  extremely  alarming  and dangerous turn in the events in the Syrian crisis."

"We are extremely, seriously concerned by the fact that weapons  of mass destruction have gotten into  militants' hands, which is  worsening the situation in  the SAR  even more  and brings  confrontation in  this country to a new level," it said.

In light  of the  incident, Moscow  once again  urged all  sensible forces in  Syria  to stop  violence  and  switch to  real  steps  toward political settlement at the negotiating  table, as is envisioned by  the Action Group's Geneva communique dated June 30, 2012.

The Russian Foreign Ministry possesses information indicating  that a detonation of a war gas ammunition round not far from Aleppo killed 16 and injured about 100 people.

The government-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported  earlier that opposition forces fired a rocket carrying a chemical agent upon  an area near the village of Khan  al-Asal, killing 15 and injuring  several other people.


Russia denies rebels used chemical weapons in Aleppo strike

Russian diplomats in Damascus haven’t confirmed reports alleging that Syrian rebels fired a rocket loaded with chemical agents near Aleppo, Russian media report.

A number of Western news agencies earlier claimed that anti-Assad forces had launched a missile with chemical weapons at the northern town of Khan al-Assal.

The attack allegedly killed 15, most of them civilians. The number of injured people is still being estimated.

Rebels fired chemical weapon into northern Syria - Syrian state media 

Syria's government on Tuesday accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons, with state media saying "terrorists" had fired "rockets containing chemical materials" in Aleppo province, killing 15 people. 

"Terrorists fired rockets containing chemical materials on Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province, and preliminary information suggests 15 people were killed, mostly civilians," the state news agency SANA and Syrian state television said.

The accusation is the first such claim by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against rebel forces, though the international community has warned the regime against deploying its own stocks of chemical weapons.

There are also concerns that the weapons could fall into the hands of militants, with the United States and Israel particularly concerned about the fate of the arms if the regime loses control over them.

Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which dates back to the 1970s, is the biggest in the Middle East, but its precise scope remains unclear, according to analysts, and the regime has not acknowledged having the arms.

The country has hundreds of tons of various chemical agents, including sarin and VX nerve agents, as well as older blistering agents such as mustard gas, dispersed in dozens of manufacturing and storage sites, experts say.

But it remains unclear if the chemical weapons are mounted and ready to be launched on Scud missiles, if the chemical agents are maintained effectively, and whether the regime is able to replenish its chemical stocks.

Damascus has said it might use its chemical weapons if attacked by outsiders, although not against its own people.

Washington gets less and less information about Syrian rebels – Dempsey  

Washington has been receiving less and less information about rebels who’ve been active in Syria, said the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, in a statement.  

When speaking in Washington, he said that the US had a very vague idea of the opposition.

By now, the information has become still vaguer, he said. The General urged that caution be shown in discussing any proposals for military intervention in the events in Syria. He added he thought that currently Washington could only perceive the consequences of this kind of move.

 Voice of Russia, Interfax, TASS, AFP

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