Daily Israel Report

Syrian Rebels Smuggling Evidence of Chemical Attack

Syrian activists say they are smuggling out tissue samples from victims of an alleged chemical attack to bring to UN inspectors.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 8/23/2013, 11:00 PM

Victim in Syria
Victim in Syria
Reuters

Syrian activists said on Friday they are smuggling out body tissue samples from victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, according to the Reuters news agency.

The activists said they were trying to get the samples to a team of United Nations inspectors staying in a hotel a few miles away.

"The UN team spoke with us and since then we prepared samples of hair, skin and blood and smuggled them back into Damascus with trusted couriers," an activist, Abu Nidal, told the news agency.

The opposition accuses President Bashar Al-Assad's forces of firing rockets loaded with poison gas before dawn on Wednesday.

The opposition said the attack killed more than 1,000 civilians.

Chemical weapons experts say every hour counts and that the longer it takes, the more likely evidence can be covered up or tampered with.

Only a few activists said they were confident that they had a contact who would be able to hand their samples to the UN inspectors.

Most activists in the area who spoke to Reuters said they had also prepared samples to smuggle into the capital, but had little to zero contact with the UN experts and were unable to find a way to access the monitors inside their hotel.

Opposition sources say that in addition to tissue samples they have taken photographs of bomb sites, written witness accounts, and samples of soil and animals in areas affected by the attacks.

Foreign powers have said chemical weapons could change the calculus in terms of outside intervention and have negotiated with Damascus to allow a UN team of experts to examine the site of three small-scale attacks where poison gas was allegedly used earlier this year.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered local spy agencies to urgently probe the claims that Syrian forces launched the chemical attack on civilians.

The Obama administration is facing rising political pressure for a tough response to the attack, which could have again infringed U.S. "red lines" against chemical weapons use by Assad's regime.

Obama said on Friday that the time is nearing for a potentially definitive U.S. response to the alleged Syrian government atrocities.

France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said in a television interview Thursday that the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad, if proven, should lead to the use of force by other countries against Syria – but he ruled out a ground invasion.

“If it is proven, France's position is that there must be a reaction, a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force,” Fabius told BFM-TV.

“There are possibilities for responding,” he said without elaborating.

He said, however, that there was “no question” of sending in ground troops, adding “it's impossible.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)