Western military sources have told DEBKA file that three chemicals were believed present in the Scud B rocket which exploded in the Aleppo neighborhood of Khan al-Assal Tuesday March 19: phosphorus, chlorine and Agent 15 or BZ.
Although the Assad regime and the rebels charged each other with firing the rocket, which killed 15-31 people and injured more than a hundred, it was not possible to verify which side was actually responsible. The White House denied it was the rebels, while Moscow insisted that it was, in support of the accusation from Damascus.
The assumption in Israeli security circles is that either or both sides may have tried a one-shot use of a chemical weapon to test the limits of world-power tolerance. The incapacitating Agent 15 which causes choking is the least harmful of Assad’s chemical arsenal. A US army spokesman said the American armed forces had plans for intervening in the Syrian conflict if chemical weapons were used.
DEBKAfile reported Tuesday:
Extensive preparations by Syrian army units for launching chemical weapons against rebel forces have been sighted in the northern town of Homs, Western intelligence agencies toldDEBKAfile’s military sources Tuesday, March 19.
Damascus is thought to have paved the way for resorting to unconventional weaponry with an accusation run by the state news agency SANA Tuesday that Syrian rebels had fired a rocket containing chemical substances in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo, allegedly killing 15 people, mostly civilians. Rebels quickly denied the report and accused regime forces of “firing a chemical weapon on a long-range SCUD, after which 20 people died of asphyxia and poisoning.”