The Al Jazeera Syria blog reported on Monday allegations from Syrian opposition activists saying that some type of poisonous gas attack by the Syrian authorities has killed seven people. A European Union spokesperson said they could not verify the report. Raji Rahmet Rabbou, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera that medics are saying the gas is “something similar to Sarin gas,” which is a chemical weapon.
Syria is believed to have one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world, and the US, Europe, Israel, Jordan and others have all expressed concerns about the weapons. Using chemical weapons on the populace is often treated as something of a “red line” by officials in the West, although it has remained unclear what the exact consequences would be.
The attack took place on a Homs neighborhood occupied by rebel forces. Al Jazeera posted two videos on their post regarding the incident.
However, an EU spokesperson told The Mideast Update, “We have no confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The EU is monitoring the situation very closely. The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use and transfer of chemical weapons in Syria and reminds the Syrian regime and other parties that, in case of their use, those responsible will be held accountable.”
The potential Sarin gas use comes just days after the US confirmed NATO reports that Scud missiles are continuing to be used by the Bashar al-Assad regime on the country’s citizens. Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell told reporters on Friday the US can “independently verify” the Scud allegations, according comments to released by the US State Department.
Said Ventrell, “All of these reprehensible and despicable attacks against the Syrian people are cause for concern and alarm, and that’s why we are working so hard to hasten the end of the Assad regime and move on to a brighter Syria. So I don’t want to characterize it beyond that, but this is just a pattern of an increasingly desperate regime.”
What has become a Syrian civil war has seen tens of thousands of Syrians killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. The conflict began in March of last year as a government crackdown on peaceful civilian protests and has escalated into a prolonged armed conflict. The US has repeatedly called for Assad’s government to step aside and allow for democratic reforms.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 24, 2012)