Syrian activists accuse Assad of using chemical weapons against rebels

Published August 21st, 2013 - 06:53 GMT
Buildings are heavily damaged in Zamalka, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, shortly after troops loyal to Syrian President Assad launched a brutal offensive against rebels in the area. AFP/Shaam)
Buildings are heavily damaged in Zamalka, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, shortly after troops loyal to Syrian President Assad launched a brutal offensive against rebels in the area. AFP/Shaam)

Syrian activists have accused President Bashar Assad's troops of using chemical weapons against them during offensives launched against rebel-held areas around Damascus. 

The claims levelled against the Assad regime coincides with a United Nations team of chemical weapons experts visiting Damascus in order to investigate further allegations that chemical weapons have been utilised in the Syrian crisis.

Activists from the Syrian Local Coordination Committee told Reuters that there were at least 30 bodies brought to one field hospital outside of central Damascus, in the Kafr Batna neighbourhood.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that dozens of people had been killed, including children, during a fierce offensive launched on rebel areas by troops loyal to Assad. The Observatory said Mouadamiya, southwest of the capital, came under the heaviest attack since the start of the conflict in 2011.

The Observatory called on the UN investigation team and international organisations to visit the areas that had been placed under heavy fire to ensure that aid was being delivered to those in need.

It also called on the UN to "launch an investigation to determine who was responsible for the bombardment and hold them to account".

The Syrian government and the opposition forces have each accused the other of using chemical weapons during the course of the sectarian-fuelled violence.

According to UN figures, over 100,000 people have died in the conflict. Many on the ground say that is a conservative estimate.


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