Report: Another Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria?
Israeli defense officials believe Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons on the Syrian people once again - this time, in Damascus two weeks ago.
Reports from opposition forces reported two incidents of chemical weapons use in Damascus, a senior defense official said. Israel allegedly has "strong evidence" of an attack in Damascus's eastern Harasta neighborhood on March 27; the weapon is thought to be a "neutralizing chemical" that injures, but does not kill.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stated during a press conference Monday that Syria has destroyed all of its chemical weapons manufacturing lines and ammunition. According to Ya'alon, 60% of the weapons materials have been destroyed as a result of the agreement with the international community and the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
He added that, as of now, Assad only controls about 40% of Syria.
In September, Russia dismissed the first UN report on Syria’s chemical weapons and said it has received evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian rebels. Moscow at the time called the UN report "politicized and one-sided." In response, the UN said that “the terrible facts speak for themselves" and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had the "fullest confidence" in the team.
The international operation to destroy Syria’s stockpile of deadly chemicals is a joint Russian-U.S. plan that was endorsed by the UN Security Council in September.
The resolution was a last-minute measure to prevent an American strike on Syria in retaliation for the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb in August that left hundreds dead.
Since then, other Syrian refugees and opposition groups have claimed that Assad is still using chemical weapons on his own people. In January, a group of activists and refugees went to the White House over claims of another gas attack in Damascus; the US has not acted on the charges.