Moscow alarmed by use of chemical weapons by Syrian armed opposition
"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.
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.