MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - The Syrian army has seized two cylinders of the nerve agent sarin in an operation in the city of Hama, Press TV reported on Sunday.
The containers were found in militant hideouts in the city’s al-Faraieh neighborhood, which has been the scene of fighting between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and the opposition armed groupings, the TV channel said.
Sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid gas which causes respiratory arrest and death. The poisonous agent has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687, Press TV said.
A leading United Nations official on Syria said in May in an interview on a Swiss-Italian TV network that the UN commission investigating alleged human rights abuses in Syria has heard testimony that the rebels have used chemical weapons.
"According to the testimonies that we have collected, the rebels have used chemical weapons, by using sarin gas," Carla Del Ponte of the UN commission investigating reported human rights abuses in Syria told Radiotelevisione Svizzera.
Del Ponte said the accounts came from victims, doctors and field hospitals in neighboring countries, Reuters reported. She gave no further details about when or where sarin gas may have been used.
According to defense publisher Jane's, Syria held large stocks of chemical and biological weapons before the current conflict broke out including mustard gas, phosgene, and sarin and VX nerve agents.
The two-year old civil war in Syria has killed at least 80,000 people according to figures from the United Nations (UN). The UN General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution in May that calls for an urgent end to the violence through political transition and condemns the Syrian government’s increased use of heavy weapons.