JERUSALEM, April 7 Israel Radio said on Monday
that Israel has evidence backing Syrian opposition accusations
that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had used
non-lethal chemical weapons in Damascus last month.
The report quoted an unidentified senior Israeli defence
official as saying there were two attacks on March 27, using a
"neutralising chemical weapon", east of Damascus and at another
The report was broadcast shortly after Defence Minister
Moshe Yaalon met the Israeli media. There was no immediate
comment from government officials.
Last Thursday, opposition activists accused Assad's forces
of using poison gas, showing footage of an apparently
unconscious man lying on a bed and being treated by medics.
The alleged attack, the activists said, was carried out in
Damascus's Jobar neighbourhood. Reuters could not independently
verify the footage or the claims due to security restrictions on
reporting in Syria.
One opposition group, the Syrian Revolutionary Coordinators
Union, said that all those affected by the gas were "in a good
condition". There has been on-off fighting between rebels and
government forces in Jobar this year.
A U.N. inquiry found in December that sarin gas had likely
been used in Jobar in August and in several other locations,
including in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where
hundreds of people were killed.
The inquiry was only looking at whether chemical weapons
were used, not who used them. The Syrian government and the
opposition have each accused the other of using chemical
weapons, and both have denied it.
The Ghouta attack sparked global outrage and a U.S. threat
of military strikes, which was dropped after Assad pledged to
destroy his chemical weapons.
But the Syrian government failed to meet a Feb. 5 deadline
to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors,
some 1,300 tonnes, out of the country. Israel Radio quoted the
defence official as saying the material used on March 27 was not
on the list of chemicals due to be removed.
Syria has since agreed to a new timetable to remove the
weapons by late April.
Syria's three-year civil war has killed more than 150,000
people, a third of them civilians, and caused millions to flee.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Crispian Balmer)