Official: US looking into Syria toxic gas reports

2014-04-13 21:49
File

File

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - The US ambassador to the United Nations said on Sunday that reports of a poison gas attack in a rural village north of Damascus were so far "unsubstantiated", adding that the United States was trying to establish what really happened before it considers a response.

Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the alleged attack that reportedly injured scores of people on Friday amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.

The details of what happened in Kfar Zeita, an opposition-held village in Hama province some 200km north of Damascus, remain murky. Online videos posted by rebel activists showed pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at what appeared to be a field hospital.

They suggested an affliction by some kind of poison - and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150 000 people with no end in sight.

"We are trying to run this down," said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, during an appearance on Sunday on ABC's This Week.

"So far it's unsubstantiated, but we've shown, I think, in the past that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response," she said.

Opposition groups, including the main Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack hurt dozens of people, thought it did not identify the gas used.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front rebel group for the attack, saying they used chlorine gas to kill two people and injured more than 100. It did not say how it confirmed chlorine was used.

Chlorine, one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the US, is used to purify drinking water. But as a gas, it can be deadly.

The videos were reminiscent - albeit on a much smaller scale - of a 21 August chemical attack near the capital, Damascus, that killed hundreds of people.

The US and its allies blamed the Syrian government for that attack, which crossed a "red line" that President Barack Obama had said would bring harsh consequences.

The attack nearly sparked Western airstrikes before a negotiated diplomatic settlement saw Assad's government agree to give up its chemical weapons. Damascus denied the charges and blamed rebels of staging the incident.

Chemical weapons removal

About half the weapons have been removed from Syria so far. The Syrian government has missed several deadlines, blaming the delays on security concerns.

The opposition also has claimed other, limited use of chemical weapons or poisonous gas attacks near Damascus in recent days.

Power's comments came as heavy fighting raged Sunday across many parts of the country. In the war-shattered northern city of Aleppo, activists said at least 29 people were killed over the weekend.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 16 rebels were among those who died in the overnight combat. At least 13 civilians also were killed when government aircraft dropped barrel bombs on the city's rebel-held districts.

Another activist group, the Syria-based Local Coordination Committees, said Assad's warplanes launched fresh airstrikes there on Sunday.

Aleppo, Syria's largest urban center and its one-time commercial hub, has been a key front in the civil war. The fighting has been in a stalemate for months.

Both activist groups also reported airstrikes on rebel positions in a village in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province near the Iraqi border. The Observatory said the strikes killed at least four people and wounded scores.

- AP
Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel
 

LOL treadmill fail!

Watch this hilarious clip! We think this man should rather be running outside this summer!

 
 

I love summer.24

Google’s top searches of 2014
10 of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world
2014's best drone videos
7 drinks you need to make this party season

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

15% off LEGO

Save 15% when you buy 2 or more Lego toys. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.