High chances of chemical weapon firing in Syria: US official

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 12:39

Zeenews Bureau

Beirut: In what signals an escalation of the Syrian civil war, there were reports of deaths caused by chemical weapons for the first time in country’s two year old uprising.

Both the regime and rebels accused each other of firing chemical weapons when a rocket fired at the village of Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo killed 15.

Raising the fears of chemical weapons having been used in Syria, a senior US intelligence official told CNN that there “high probability” that such weapons had been used.

"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used... We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used.",” Chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers said in an interview to CNN.

US President Barack Obama has warned Syria that using chemical weapons won’t be acceptable and would be a “red line” for possible military intervention by the US in the Syrian conflict.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is looking carefully at all allegations, but said the Obama administration is "deeply skeptical" of any claims by the Assad regime.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said "terrorists" fired a rocket "containing chemical materials" into the village.

Rebels quickly denied the report and accused regime forces of firing the weapon.

Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu, who was previously among those in charge of Syria`s chemical weapons training program before he defected to Turkey last year, accused the Assad government of firing a chemical weapon. "Only the regime has long range missiles capable of handling chemical agents," he said in comments to Arab broadcaster Al Arabiya.

There has been long-standing concerns that Syria`s chemical weapons would be used by one side or the other in the 2-yearold civil war.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in last two years of conflict in Syria, according to the latest UN estimate.

Syria`s policy has been not to confirm or deny if it has chemical weapons. But in July, then-Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a news conference that Syria would only use chemical or biological weapons in case of foreign attack, not against its own people.

Syria`s policy has been not to confirm or deny if it has chemical weapons. But in July, then-Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a news conference that Syria would only use chemical or biological weapons in case of foreign attack, not against its own people.

With Agency Inputs



First Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 11:34

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