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04/25/2013

Is Syria's Assad using chemical weapons against his people?

The Americans are now saying President Bashar Assad is gassing Syrians.

U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Abu Dhabi today that the regime has likely used the nerve agent sarin on a "small scale." 

This YouTube clip was sent by an activist on Twitter who told me that the footage was filmed in Jobar, Damascus on April 14. She said two were dead, 30 people suffering breathing problems, red eyes and a few had fallen into a coma. 

Jobar twitter screen grab

A team of United Nations investigators are in Cyprus and expected to examine soil samples and refugees. The team is not going inside Syria. Jeffrey Feltman, UN under-secretary for political affairs, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday: 

“The secretary-general [Ban Ki-moon]'s position is that, at this time, the mission should investigate the allegations pertaining to incidents in Aleppo and Homs. While awaiting access to the Syrian territory, the experts of the mission are studying the information on the alleged incidents of the use of chemical weapons provided to them by member states.  They remain ready to deploy to Syria within 24 to 48 hours following the Syrian government's acceptance of the modality and the scope of the mission.” 

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour

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