DAMASCUS / BRUSSELS
Free Syrian Army fighters are seen near buildings damaged by what activists says
were missiles fired by a Syrian fighter jet in the Akraba suburb of Damascus. REUTERS photo
A mortar hit a school in the Damascus suburbs yesterday, killing 29 students and a teacher, according to state media.
State-run SANA news agency blamed the attack on terrorists, the term the regime uses for rebels who are fighting to topple the government. There were no immediate details on the ages of the students or their identities.
The bloodshed comes as Syrian forces fired artillery at rebel targets in and around the capital and the international community grew increasingly alarmed about the regime’s chemical weapons stocks.
NATO, the U.S. and France warned Syria over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
U.S. President Barack Obama also issued a warning to President Bashar al-Assad on Dec. 3 not to use chemical weapons against opposition forces, saying there would be consequences if he were to do so. “I want to make it absolutely clear to al-Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said. “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable, and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”
A day after Obama’s warning, NATO
chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpiles were “a matter of great concern.” “The possible use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable to the whole international community, and I would expect an immediate reaction from the international community,” he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman also said the international community would react if Syria used chemical weapons. “Any use of these chemical weapons by al-Assad would be unacceptable. The leaders in Damascus must know the international community is watching them and will react [if they are used].”
Amid fears of chemical weapons, a U.S. official claimed on Dec. 3 that Syria had begun mixing chemicals that can be used to make deadly sarin gas.
“We’ve picked up several indications, which lead us to believe that they’re combining chemical precursors,” the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the operation was apparently aimed at making sarin gas.
Sarin, used in two terror attacks in Japan in the 1990s, is a man-made nerve agent that can cause convulsions, respiratory failure and death.
Compiled from AP, AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.