Syrian Rebels, Regime Trade Chemical Weapon Accusations

Yahoo Contributor Network

Syria and the opposition rebel armed forces are each blaming one another for an alleged chemical attack in northern Syria, according to the Associated Press.

However, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford testified at the House Foreign Affairs committee that the administration has not uncovered evidence of chemical weapon use in Syria, ABC OTUS News reports.

Here's the latest in the diplomatic row over the Syrian civil war and the possibility of a chemical weapon attack.

Source of attack unclear

In another AP report, Syria Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad claimed that the village of Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province had been fired at with a missile containing a chemical substance that killed 31 people. Another 100 people were wounded.

However, the Syrian National Council, is denying that they were responsible, though they are investigating the attack.

Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu, formerly in charge of Syria's chemical weapons training program, said that "only the regime has long range missiles capable of handling chemical agents," according to the AP. Sillu defected to Turkey last year.

World reacts to weapons report

Ford, in his testimony before Congress, said that the reports being made by the Syrian state news agency regarding chemical weapons remained unsubstantiated, but said that "we are looking very carefully at these reports," according to ABC OTUS News. "We are consulting with partners in the region and in the international community."

Diplomats reacted with a mix of concern and disbelief over the reports.

According to the Indo Asian News Service, the Russian foreign ministry agreed with Syria's assessment, stating, "We are very seriously concerned by the fact that chemical weapons have fallen in the hands of the armed opposition in Syria."

During a Tuesday press conference, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated the U.S. position that "the use of chemical weapons would be totally unacceptable," and that if the Assad regime did take that step "there will be consequences and they will be held accountable."

The United Kingdom said that the chemical attack strengthened the case for providing more arms to the rebel cause, arguing that Britain and France felt the outgunned rebels should be supported to avoid massacres like those that occurred in Bosnia, according to another report from Reuters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that discussions and arguments being made in the European Council chamber, where some European countries oppose relaxing the arms embargo, were reminders of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, "and the appalling events that followed," he said, according to the Reuters report.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.

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