The regime of President Bashar al-Assad says Syrian rebels have gained control of a toxic chlorine factory east of Aleppo.
The statement, quoted Sunday by Radio Free Europe's Radio Liberty, came less than a week after the Syrian foreign ministry claimed that Assad's troops would never use chemical weapons against his own people.
However, the spokesman who issued the statement was sacked within hours for making statements that “did not reflect government policy,” according to Beirut-based Al-Manar TV, linked to Iran-backed Hizbullah terrorists.
The statement may indeed have been inaccurate: a report just a few days later, backed up gruesome video documentation, told a different tale. The video, released by rebel forces, showed victims of chemical warfare. (Ed. Note: Video is graphic and not intended for children or those who are sensitive to trauma.)
Assad's claim the rebels are preparing to use chemicals in their war against his government is a sign that his own forces may have already unleashed the weapons.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was evidence that the Assad government could actually employ chemical weapons stocks in the 21-month-old civil war, but did not elaborate.
Israel's government and military personnel are monitoring the northern border and the entire situation within Syria very closely to determine what effect, if any, the conflict may have on its own citizens. The IDF stands prepared to act as necessary to defend its citizens, a spokesman said.