Syrian airstrikes, artillery pummel site of purported gas attack
DAMASCUS — Syria's deputy prime minister said foreign fighters and their international backers are to blame for a purported chemical weapons attack near Damascus that the opposition says killed at least 100 people, the deadliest such attack in Syria's civil war.
Government forces, meanwhile, pummeled the targeted rebel strongholds where the alleged attack occurred with airstrikes and artillery for a second day, violence that was likely to complicate any swift investigation into the mystery surrounding the deaths.
Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil's comments were part of a campaign to use the horror over the deaths to boost its narrative about the conflict — that Syria is under assault by foreign Islamic radicals.
Rebels blamed the attack on the Syrian military, saying toxic chemicals were used in artillery barrages on the area known as eastern Ghouta on Wednesday.
Jamil did not directly acknowledge that toxic gas was used against the eastern suburbs but denied allegations by anti-government activists that President Bashar Assad's forces were behind the assault.
The murky nature of the purported attacks, and the difficulty of gaining access to the sites amid the carnage of Syria's war and government restrictions on foreign media, has made it impossible to verify the claims.
But they have fueled calls in the West for greater action against Assad's regime as amateur videos and photos showed images of the dead, including scores of lifeless children, lying shoulder to shoulder, while others struggled to breathe.
The United States and a host of other countries demanded that a team of United Nations experts in Syria be granted immediate access to the site.
Jamil said he was personally in favor of a fair, transparent international delegation to investigate the incident in Ghouta. But he said this requires a new agreement between the government and the United Nations and that the conditions for such a delegation would need to be studied.
“We don't want to be like Iraq, opening our territory up to all sorts of investigators, going through our homes and bedrooms. Syria is a sovereign nation and will preserve its sovereignty,” he told the AP at the prime minister's offices in the Damascus district of Kfar Sousseh.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zimbabwe suspends hunts amid outcry over lion’s death
- Bin Laden relatives among crash casualties
- Comets hold life building blocks
- Al-Qaida group in Syria targeted by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes
- Senate to grill United Nations agency chief Amano on Iran nuclear pact
- Turkey aims guns at Kurdish rebels
- China says U.S. trying to militarize South China Sea
- Dissension cracks Taliban leadership
- Firebombing kills Palestinian toddler, wounds family; Jewish settlers blamed
- Ayatollah: Hostility between Iran, ‘arrogant’ United States won’t change
- Libyans on death sentences for Gadhafi’s son, others: ‘Who cares?’