Chemical attack victims smuggled out of Syria
SYRIA, DAMASCUS : An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by the Local Committee of Arbeen on August 21, 2013 allegedly shows Syrians covering a mass grave containing bodies of victims that Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta and Zamalka, on the outskirts of Damascus. AFP PHOTO / YOUTUBE / LOCAL COMMITTEE OF ARBEEN
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Syria's opposition coalition said on Friday that victims from an alleged chemical weapons attack in
East Damascus have been smuggled out of the country, in order that samples of their blood and urine be tested to determine which gas was used to kill hundreds of people.
“We took them and sent them outside Syria,” Syrian National Coalition Secretary General Badr Jamous told Reuters.
Although Mr Jamous did not say where the samples had been sent, rebels speaking to the Guardian newspaper said victims were being taken to Jordan.
Sources told The Guardian newspaper that an active network of defectors, some of whom used to work in the Syrian military's chemical warfare division, were helping to smuggle biological samples-including biopsies of livers and spleens from those killed- across the border.
Rebel groups say they have been contacted by UN investigators to provide such samples, the Guardian reported, although the paper said it was unable to verify if the contact was indeed from the UN.
United Nations chemical weapons inspectors have so far still been denied access to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, despite repeated calls internationally to grant them entry.
The opposition coalition has guaranteed the safety of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in those areas of Syria it controls.
“We will ensure the safety of the U.N. team ... It is critical that those inspectors get there within 48 hours,” coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh said at a press conference.
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