Assad's Forces Accused of New Syrian Poison Gas Attack

Assad's Forces Accused of New Syrian Poison Gas Attack

Opposition activists accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of yet another new poison gas attack in the capital of Damascus on Wednesday, posting footage of four men being treated by medics for apparent chemical exposure, reports The Jerusalem Post

The activists did not say if there were fatalities, or what gas was used.

The alleged attack, the fourth the opposition has reported this month, was in the Harasta neighbourhood, the second such attack reported in that neighbourhood in the past week.

Last week, British and American officials said they were investigating claims that the Syrian government carried out a series of new chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus.

Those statements came just days after Israeli officials said that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used non-lethal chemicals in an attack against a rebel-held neighbourhood.

Though the type of poison gas used was not specified, the Assad regime is believed to be using toxic industrial substances, rather than weaponised chemicals, as a ploy to spread fear, but on a scale not quite large enough to trigger an international military reaction. 

Last summer, the Assad regime agreed to give up its chemical weapons after a chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta killed over 1,000 people. The attack drew widespread condemnation and threats of military action by the US, Britain and France.  A U.N. inquiry found in December that sarin gas had likely been used in that attack.

The Syrian government has so far failed to meet its deadlines to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors, some 1,300 metric tons, out of the country.

Opposition activists also claimed that helicopters had dropped chlorine gas on the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita on Friday and Saturday, though the U.S. called those claims “unsubstantiated.”

On Sunday, activists posted photographs and video they said showed an improvised chlorine bomb to back up claims that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Kfar Zeita, which the government blamed on rebels.

The Syrian government and the opposition have each accused the other of using chemical weapons during the three-year-old civil war. Both sides have denied it.

According to Israel, a non-lethal compound was used in attacks on Harasta in March which was not listed among the chemicals that Syria committed to dispose of when it signed an agreement in September 2013 to give up its chemical weapons. Israel pays particularly close attention to Syrian use and transfer of chemical weapons to prevent any such weapons from landing in the hands of Hezbollah.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, a third of them civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Millions more have fled the country.