Politics

SANA News Agency Reports 15 Dead After Chemical Weapons Attack In Syria

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Syrian state news agency SANA accused rebels on Tuesday of killing 15 people in a chemical weapons attack in the northern province of Aleppo.

"Terrorists fired a rocket containing chemical substances in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo and initial reports indicate that around 15 people were killed, most of them civilians," SANA news agency reported.

Syrian rebel forces have yet to respond.

It is believed that the Syrian government has a chemical arsenal at its disposal should it choose to use it. Syrian officials, led by President Bashar al-Assad, have neither confirmed nor denied having chemical weapons. The government has said that if they did have the capacity to use chemical weapons, they would be used to defend against foreign aggression, not against Syrians.

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Western nations have been concerned about the use of chemical weapons in the area and fear that stockpiles could easily fall into the hands of militant groups, according to Reuters.

The Aleppo Media Center, affiliated with the rebels, released a statement saying that it was treating civilians for cases of “suffocation and poison” after a surface-to-surface missile was fired at the area. It said the cases were “most likely” caused by regime forces’ use of “poisonous gases.”

At this point it’s not clear whether the government or the rebels are behind the chemical weapons attack.

Update:

BREAKING: Syrian information minister says chemical weapon fired is 'first act' by interim government.

— The Associated Press (@AP) March 19, 2013

Source: (Reuters); (Washington Post)