Poison Gas In Syria: Rebels Killed As Regime Denies Chemical Weapons [VIDEO]
Two days ago, NBC News reported that a number of Syrians were killed, including 6 rebel activists, after toxic gases were released in the rebel-held districts of Homs. Local eyewitnesses and activists claim the gases were released by government forces following the Sunday attack.
According to doctors as well as activists reporting the incident on YouTube, a significant amount of civilians were treated for severe breathing difficulties.
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However, despite the reports, the nature of the gas is not completely understood. While it is apparently a concentrated respiratory irritant, it is not one of the deadly chemical weapons known to be used by the Syrian regime.
According to London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights chairman and doctor Mousab Azzawi, reports from the incidents via field doctors noted patients were "losing consciousness, experiencing severe shortness of breath and vomiting.”
Azzawi said, "To our understanding, this is similar to poisoning with pesticide."
What's more, Azzawi believes that the Sunday attack was relatively small scale compared to what the regime is capable of. In fact, Homs Revolutionary Council spokesperson Walid Fares issued a statement that the poisonous gases were shells shot from government tanks in the Al Bayada and Al Khalideya districts
The statement described the incident: “The shells did not explode but rather emitted a cloud of white smoke and it landed in residential areas… where revolutionaries had gathered and which led to tens being injured."
The latest event in a long-time rift between the Syrian rebel forces and the Syrian regime, President Barack Obama warned President Bashar al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons on the Syrian people is "totally unacceptable." Obama stressed, "If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable," he said.
Meanwhile, Israel shared its doubt yesterday on the accuracy of Syrian activists' reports.
According to Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon on Army Radio, it is possible for Syrian activists to have fabricated the event. "We have seen reports from the opposition. It is not the first time. The opposition has an interest in drawing in international military intervention."
"As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or proof that (chemical weapons) have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern."
While the speculations are divisive, concrete evidence involving the event are difficult to find and even more difficult to verify as the government restricts media access in Syria.
Via Reuters, the Syrian government claimed it would never use chemical weapons against its citizens.
When asked to examine images that show patients treated for gas poisoning, Moshe Yaalon said: "I'm not sure that what we're seeing in the photos is the result of the use of chemical weapons. It could be other things."
Finally, senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad confirmed that Syria's chemical weapons were secure despite the fact that President Assad has lost control of some parts of the country. The security of chemical weapons are crucial for the region as Syria's neighbor Israel fears the chemical weapons might fall into the hands of Islamist militants or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. Israel said it will likely intervene in Syrian affairs to stop such developments.
See the videos of the chemical attack aftermath in Homs, Syria, on Sunday:
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