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Chemical war of words: Syrian govt, rebels trade accusations

RT [1]
Dec 24, 2012

Though Moscow maintains that Syria’s chemical weapons are secure, new rumors have recently swept international media: Syrian rebels and government forces have accused each other of using nerve agents that led to fatalities, unconfirmed reports said.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has reported that Al-Qaeda-linked rebels allegedly used chemical weapons during a battle with government troops in the Darya district on the outskirts of Damascus, killing at least seven soldiers.

The terrorists have already thrown three cube-shaped plastic bags towards the [Syrian] army’s forces that killed seven due to the gases emerging from the bags,” a commander of the Syrian Presidential Guard told the Iran-based Al-Alam news channel on Sunday.

The commander did not comment on the nature or the suspected origin of the gas, but said that it was yellow and caused death within an hour of being inhaled, Fars News Agency reported.

As the allegations emerged, some Twitter users said that at least seven people died after about 50 people were exposed to gas used by government troops in Homs, Syria. The gas reportedly caused suffocation, nerve paralysis, temporary blindness, a change in skin color, nausea and hallucinations.

A number of videos surfaced on YouTube showing several men gasping for air surrounded by medics, allegedly after being exposed to the chemical weapons. Unidentified narrators said the men “saw flames in the sky” from an explosion, after which they “suffocated.

Doctors were reportedly unable to identify the type of the gas used in the attack, but activists claimed it was a nerve agent, possibly hydrogen cyanide since the alleged effects were similar to those caused by the substance.

None of these reports have been independently verified.