Syrian Officials Insist Jihadists Behind Chemical Attack

Sunday, 24 Mar 2013 12:32 PM

By Kenneth Hanner

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Syrian military officials say an attack using chemical agents last week came from an area controlled by a jihadist group linked to al-Qaida which has been deemed a terrorist organization by the United States.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ordered an investigation into the attack which killed 26, fearing that chemical weapons banned by international law were used. Both sides accused the other of launching the attack.

A Syrian military official said a small rocket was fired from a district in the town of Khan al-Assal controlled by the jihad group Jabhat al-Nusra, according to an account in The Telegraph.

A small home-made rocket likely carried a quantity of chlorine, known as CL17, which is readily available as a swimming pool cleanser, according to the anonymous Syrian military official, said the newspaper to be “a trusted and hitherto reliable source.”

A civilian medic told the publication that Syrian soldiers assisted victims at the scene, where victims suffered “from vomiting, fainting, suffocation and seizures.”

While chlorine can be deadly, it does not constitute a chemical weapon under international treaties.

Syria is feared to possess large quantities of chemical weapons, including sarin, mustard and VX gases. The Obama administration has said that the use of such weapons would constitute a breach of his so-called “red line” and would warrant military intervention.

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