Damascus Gas Attack: 2 Dead, 100 Sickened as Syria, Rebels Face Off

Image: Damascus Gas Attack: 2 Dead, 100 Sickened as Syria, Rebels Face Off

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 12:56 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Syrian rebels and Damascus officials pointed fingers at each other this week as state television reported that a poison gas attack hit the rebel stronghold of Kfar Zeita, killing two people and sickening more than 100.

According to The New York Times, the attack happened Friday when helicopters dropped improvised bombs on the village in Hama province, which covered the area with thick smoke that smelled like chlorine.

Syrian state television first reported the attack during its Saturday broadcast and blamed the Nusra Front, a Syrian Al Qaida affiliate.

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The Associated Press reported that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British activist organization with a network of on-the-ground volunteers in the country, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area.

The gas attack presents a new challenge to the United States and its Western allies, which held off bombing Syria after the country agreed to dispose of its chemical weapon stockpiles last year. The agreement came after a series of sarin gas attacked reportedly killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb.

The U.S. state department told the AP Friday that it did not have any information to information to corroborate the latest gas attack charges. Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she did not want to speculate on any U.S. response if the gas reports are corroborated.

While the chemical weapons issue continues to brew, the fighting between Syrian troops and rebel forces also rages on, according to the AP. The Syrian Observatory and state television noted heavy fighting recently in the northern city of Aleppo, a key territory in Syria's civil war ever since rebels launched an offensive there in July 2012.

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