UN human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.
“Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.
“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.
The use of chemical weapons is the ‘red line’ for President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said in his interview with the CNN TV channel.
He specified that he meant Syrian government troops, disclaiming responsibility for Islamist groups in Syria that have already used chemical munitions.
Omran al-Zoubi stressed that Damascus took a serious attitude towards the US warning that should chemical weapons be used in Syria the US would reconsider the range of possible ways to settle the Syrian crisis.
Bashar al-Assad used nerve gas in Aleppo on April 13, several media reported after a Syrian doctor posted a video of apparent victims to his Facebook page.
The video posted on Facebook by Niazi Habash, British-trained doctor who treated the Aleppo victims, appears to show his patients experiencing breathing difficulties and foaming at the mouth. Dr Habash said that these are symptoms of chemical exposure. The victims of the attack were treated using chemical weapons antidote Atropine, doctor claimed. However two babies and a woman died of respiratory failure.
Apart from the dead, the attack on April 13 injured at least 15 people.
Witnesses said the victims displayed the symptoms after a regime aircraft dropped containers that exploded and scattered their contents across the area.
Upon studying the video posted by Dr Habash, experts claimed that the effects appear to be similar to those suffered by victims of an attack on Khan al-Assad, near Aleppo, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile a soil sample from Khan al-Assad was tested positive for a chemical agent, reported British military scientists, according to the Times.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British Army specialist, said that Syria most likely used the chemical sarin during Aleppo attack. He told the Daily Telegraph: “From what we’ve seen and the descriptions of the containers being dropped from the air, it certainly seems that the regime is using sarin in an unprepared state in these attacks.”
Voice of Russia, Interfax, TASS, Daily Telegraph, Times, Gulf News, Reuters