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Syrian Rebels: Chemical Weapons Used in Damascus

Syrian government forces reportedly used chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas in two Damascus neighborhoods.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/25/2013, 4:46 AM

View of the Syrian capital Damascus
View of the Syrian capital Damascus
AFP/File

Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas in two Damascus neighborhoods on Sunday, Bloomberg reports, citing a Washington-based group backing the Syrian opposition.

If confirmed, the attacks would indicate the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad is undeterred by the decision of the U.S. and other nations to increase military support for the rebels following earlier reports of chemical weapons use.

In the latest alleged incidents, the Syrian Support Group said in a statement that it received reports from opposition sources that chemical bombs were dropped on the eastern Damascus neighborhood of Zamalka, killing six people and injuring dozens.

In addition, the organization said chemical-filled shells were fired into the capital’s Qaboun district late in the day, with the casualty figures not yet known.

Victims are being treated at rebel-run medical facilities and doctors are attempting to determine the chemical used in the attacks, according to Dan Layman, a spokesman for the Syrian Support Group.

Victims’ symptoms included convulsions, chest and abdominal pain, dizziness, breathing difficulty, and contraction of pupils known as myosis, the group said, according to Bloomberg.

There was no independent confirmation of the reports. The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately respond to a question about the alleged incidents.

The Syrian Support Group, a nonprofit group licensed to raise funds for the rebel Free Syrian Army, also said that rockets fired by government aircraft destroyed most of a major hospital in Deir Ezzor province on June 23. Medical personnel were able to evacuate all patients from the hospital before the attack, and only minor injuries have been reported, the group said.

The U.S. government has confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, adding that America will increase the “scope and scale” of its assistance to rebels in Syria in response.

France had previously revealed that it had firm evidence sarin had been used by the Syrian regime in at least one case.

Last week, rebels said they had received Russian-made “Konkurs” anti-tank missiles supplied by America’s key Gulf ally, Saudi Arabia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the Syrian rebels are “cannibals” and should not be given arms, referring to video footage posted on the Internet last month of a rebel fighter eating the heart of a government soldier.

He also said that his country would not rule out sending fresh arms to the Syrian regime.