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WASHINGTON – There are increasing indications that Islamic foreign fighters associated with the Syrian opposition may have unleashed the poison gas attack Aug. 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria.
The U.S. State Department says the attack killed 1,429 people.
WND has reported on videos showing captured canisters in the hands of the opposition and foreign fighters firing artillery rounds of chemical weapons. In addition, the United Nations has information poison gas had been produced in Iraq by supporters of the fallen Sunni Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, then shipped to Turkey where it was distributed to the foreign fighters.
There is no word yet on whether the U.N. plans to investigate the information.
U.N. inspectors in Damascus investigating allegations of chemical weapons use, at the invitation of the Syrian government, entered a tunnel in the area occupied by the opposition and found it filled with poison gas precursors. However, they had to leave after some of the investigators were overcome by fumes.
The development further reinforces an allegation by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who pointed out the chemical weapons attack occurred at the very time Russian and American officials were meeting to prepare for the next Geneva conference to discuss Syria.
Lavrov contends the attack was designed to sabotage the meeting, since the Syrian opposition doesn’t want to have the meeting with officials of the Syrian government present.
“There is no doubt that this hysteria (chemical weapons attack) will work against the convention of this forum,” Lavrov said. “It is evident that the opposition does not want any negotiations and announces that it agrees only to an unconditional capitulation of the regime.”
By extension, Lavrov’s assertion implied the opposition may have conducted the gas attack knowing the Syrian government would be blamed in an effort to get the West finally to become directly involved in attacking Syrian military sites and institute a no-fly zone.
The opposition, which has sustained increasing military defeats in the two-year civil war, has been seeking such support but, until now, the West has reneged on direct military involvement.
In his criticism of the opposition, Lavrov said it is seeking only a military solution to the Syrian crisis.
“In general, the course of event confirms that as soon as there is a small chance to initiate a political process, the attempts of replacing the regime are being undertaken to disrupt these chances,” Lavrov said.
He pointed out there was similar action by the opposition during previous peaceful initiatives, such as the visit by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and numerous U.N. observer missions in Syria.
“I think that now the same attempt is being undertaken to disrupt the Russian-American initiative of the 7 May to convene an international conference for full implementation of the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012,” he said.
“Unlike the representatives of the Syrian government, who agreed to send their delegation to the conference without preconditions, the opposition has not done this although almost five months have passed,” he added. “We would like to understand what signals opposition members get from their sponsors in respect of the preparation for the conference.”
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