Syrians Trade Blame for New Chlorine-Gas Strikes

Syrian opposition fighters carry a comrade injured during clashes with government forces in Aleppo on Wednesday. Regime and opposition groups have exchanged new accusations of chemical-arms use in Syria's civil war.
Syrian opposition fighters carry a comrade injured during clashes with government forces in Aleppo on Wednesday. Regime and opposition groups have exchanged new accusations of chemical-arms use in Syria's civil war. (Medo Halab/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian regime and opposition groups traded blame for an apparent series of chlorine-gas strikes on Friday and Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Political organizers said a juvenile died and 50 others suffered wounds from chlorine released by government aircraft. Rebel groups said the attacks hit the village of Kfar Zeita in Syria's Hama province on Friday and Saturday, and the neighboring jurisdiction of Tamana in Idlib province on Saturday.

Eliot Higgins, a chemical-arms expert in the United Kingdom, said online footage suggests regime forces placed "an industrial chlorine cylinder ... in [an] improvised barrel bomb and dropped it out of a helicopter," Reuters reported on Monday.

Government media, though, on Saturday blamed the Kfar Zeita strike on the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida. A regime television broadcast said Turkey was behind the assault, and added that two noncombatants died and almost 100 were receiving medical help for respiratory symptoms, the Journal reported.

Any firm indication of regime culpability for the reported strikes could undermine an international plan to dismantle Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical arsenal, the newspaper said on Sunday. His government delivered a 13th batch of warfare chemicals into international custody, bringing the surrendered portion of its stockpile to 65.1 percent, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a Monday statement.

On Sunday, Washington's envoy to the United Nations said U.S. authorities were examining the latest chemical-strike claims.

"So far, it's unsubstantiated," Ambassador Samantha Power told ABC News. "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."

Damascus agreed to surrender its chemical arsenal after a sarin-gas attack prompted talk of a potential U.S. military response. However, its pledge does not extend to chlorine, a material common in manufacturing settings.

April 14, 2014
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Syrian regime and opposition groups traded blame for an apparent series of chlorine-gas strikes on Friday and Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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