March 21, 2013: The Bashar Al-Assad regime and the rebels accuse each other of using
chemical weapons on Khan al-Assal in provincial Aleppo, where on Tuesday a "dense
smoke" killed 25 people and left 110 wounded, most of them with the principles of
asphyxiation. Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian ambassador to the UN accuses "terrorist groups"
of firing a rocket load of chemicals. Ghassan Hitto, Interim Prime Minister of the
exiled opposition instead accuses Assad's forces of having used chemical agents since
the beginning of the conflict.
It had emerged several times as one of the main
risks of the conflict, but this is the first time in two years of war that bombs or
missiles with chemical warheads have been used. Although at present there is still
no evidence to accuse the regime or the rebels for such actions, UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon, defines the use of such weapons "as an outrageous crime." Üzümcü Ahmed,
Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said
that "we are deeply concerned about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria."
On the diplomatic front everyone is confused and depend on the statements,
often tendentious, from both sides. Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry gave credence
to the version of the Syrian government, saying in a statement "that weapons of mass
destruction have fallen into the hands of rebel fighters."
The United States
and Europe have criticized Moscow and are wary of the accusations against the rebels
of the Free Syrian Army. Britain and France have recently confirmed their support
to the armed anti-Assad militias see the problem of chemical weapons as a call to
direct intervention in the conflict. Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's ambassador to the
United Nations states that "if there really has been the use of chemical warheads,
this requires a serious response by the international community."
In the chaos
of the blame game between Syrian regime, rebels and the international community, the
location of the chemical weapons, their size and dimension remains unknown. According
to a report by the Congressional Research Service of the United States, in recent
decades, the Assad regime has accumulated stockpiles of nerve agents such as sarin
gas, VX and mustard gas.