Syrian opposition warns of new chemical attacks

Syrian opposition warns of new chemical attacks

Syrian opposition warns of new chemical attacks

Syrian National Coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh speaks during a news conference in Istanbul September 3. REUTERS photo

The Syrian regime has moved its warheads in three convoys and may use them in new chemical attacks, the opposition Syrian National Coalition’s spokesperson Khalid Saleh said today.

“We know that three convoys carrying chemical warheads have moved from Hudayfa to three locations in Syria,” Saleh told a group of journalists in Istanbul on Sept. 3.

“We are afraid that this move might be a preparation for new chemical attacks in Syria,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that he did not believe that the move had been made in order to hide the weapons. 

Saleh said the convoys had moved within the last 24 or 36 hours. He said one of the three locations to which the weapons were carried is the Dhuair military airport, while the second location is Izri’ in the province of Daraa. “We do not have concrete information for the destination of the third convoy,” he added.

Proof of March chemical attack

Abdel Tawwab Sharour, the former head of the forensic medicine department in Aleppo, recently defected from the regime, but failed to appear at the Istanbul press conference due to “security concerns.” Saleh said Sharour held documents showing how the Syrian regime dealt with crimes in Aleppo, and would release them within the next two weeks.

Shahrour had documents proving that a chemical weapons attack took place and eye-witness accounts from police authorities that contradicted the administration's version of events, a second opposition official said.

The attack at Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo in March killed more than two dozen people. Both the government and rebels have blamed each other for what they say was an attack involving chemical weapons. 

Russia, which alongside Iran is Syria's closest ally and chief arms supplier, said in July its own scientific analysis indicated the attack had involved the nerve agent sarin and had most likely been carried out by the rebels. Both sides deny using chemical weapons. 

A team of U.N. experts who visited Syria last month to investigate allegations of chemicals weapons had originally planned to visit Khan al-Assal but ended up focusing on a much larger apparent poison gas attack which killed hundreds of civilians in suburbs of the capital Damascus on Aug. 21.