Syria regime and rebels both claim use of chemical weapons
Pictured: Patient in Homs allegedly suffering from gas poisoning. (Screen grab taken from Youtube)
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Syrian opposition groups have accused the regime of using chemical weapons against rebels in Homs, while the regime said rebel fighters used poison gas against the army in Damascus on Sunday.
The accusations were traded a day after Israel had said it considered Syrian stocks of chemical weapons “secure”.
Videos posted online claimed to show the effects of an unknown agent on an opposition fighter in the Al Bayada district of Homs. In the video uploaded to Youtube, activist footage showed a young man in a makeshift medical clinic receiving treatment. The man struggles to draw breath and appears in significant discomfort.
The unidentified narrator said the men “saw flames in the sky” from an explosion, after which people "suffocated". A medic treating the patient says the man has inhaled poisonous gas, adding that he thinks its effects are similar to cyanide, including causing temporary blindness and restriction of airflow to the lungs.
The authenticity of the video could not be verified.
There have been no proven cases of hydrogen cyanide being used in chemical warfare. But it was reportedly used by Iraq in the war against Iran and against the Kurds in northern Iraq during the 1980's. The substance is listed under schedule 3 of the chemical weapons convention.
Meanwhile Syria accused opposition fighters in the Damascus countryside of using chemical agents against regime forces on Sunday.
A commander of Bashar al-Assad’s Presidential Guard said seven members of the military were killed when rebels threw “three cube-shaped plastic bags” filled with poisonous gasses at them. He added that a “yellow button” on the bags triggered the release of gas.
Earlier in the month Syria claimed a video posted on Youtube showed a militant group testing chemical agents on rabbits and threatening their use against Alawite Syrians.
A senior Israeli defense official said on Sunday that potentially lethal chemical arms in Syria were secure. Syria told the United Nations in early December that it would never use chemical weapons but warned that opposition fighters could use them, following international threats of military intervention.