Syrian State TV, Rebels Trade Allegations Over Poison Gas Attack

Pro-rebels observatory reports civilians having trouble breathing, while state TV accuses opposition jihadists for attacking with 'toxic chlorine.'

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The Free Syrian Army launching a locally made rocket towards Assad forces, Hama province April 10, 2014.
The Free Syrian Army launching a locally made rocket towards Assad forces, Hama province April 10, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Syrian state media and opposition activists on Saturday traded accusations over an alleged toxic gas attack in the central province of Hama.

Syria's state television claimed that rebels affiliated with the jihadist al-Nusra Front had used "toxic chlorine" on Friday while attacking the village of Kafr Zita in Hama.

"The attack led to the killing of two people and some 100 suffered from suffocation," the broadcaster said.

However, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said residents of Kafr Zita had trouble breathing after regime troops hit the village with barrels packed with explosives.

"Following the raid, people saw thick clouds of smoke. Some people suffered from suffocation and showed poisoning symptoms," Abdel Rahman said, citing information from medical personnel in the area.

Activist Abu Youssef al-Hamawi, based in Hama, told dpa that the regime troops had attacked the village with poisonous gas and that people were being treated for poisoning.

The claims could not be independently verified.

Last year, the Syrian government and opposition accused each other of using a toxic gas in an area near the capital Damascus, reportedly killing around 1,400 people.

After the incident, Syria agreed under international pressure and a US-Russian deal to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile for destruction.

The United Nations has set a 30 June deadline for full destruction of the arsenal.

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