Rebels say chem­i­cals used against them

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

A Syr­ian rebel group ac­cused the Syr­ian army of us­ing chlo­rine gas against its fighters on Satur­day in bat­tles east of Da­m­as­cus — an ac­cu­sa­tion the mil­i­tary swiftly de­nied as a fab­ri­ca­tion.

The Failaq al-Rah­man group said more than 30 peo­ple suf­fered suf­fo­ca­tion as a re­sult of the at­tack in Ain Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta re­gion, which gov­ern­ment forces have been bat­tling to take back from in­sur­gents.

In a state­ment cir­cu­lated by state-run me­dia, a mil­i­tary source said the army com­mand de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion. “It has not used any chem­i­cal weapons in the past, and will not use them at any time.”

The United States said on Wed­nes­day the gov­ern­ment of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad ap­peared to have heeded a warn­ing is­sued ear­lier in the week not to carry out a chem­i­cal weapons at­tack, af­ter say­ing it saw pos­si­ble prepa­ra­tions for one.

West­ern gov­ern­ments in­clud­ing the United States said the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment was be­hind an April gas at­tack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens. In re­sponse, the United States fired cruise mis­siles at the air base from which it said the at­tack was launched. The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment has de­nied any role in that at­tack.

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