WASHINGTON May 9 Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad has fired missiles with chemical weapons at his
opponents, crossing President Barack Obama's red line a "long
time ago," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was
quoted as telling NBC News on Thursday.
"It is clear that the regime has used chemical weapons and
missiles. They used about 200 missiles, according to our
intelligence," Erdogan said in a transcript of the interview
with the American television news outlet in Istanbul.
The Turkish leader did not make clear whether Turkey
believed that all 200 missiles carried chemical weapons and said
his government had not determined whether sarin gas was used.
"There are different sizes missiles. And then there are
deaths caused by these missiles. And there are burns, you know,
serious burns and chemical reactions," Erdogan told the network
when asked what evidence Turkey had.
"And there are patients who are brought to our hospitals who
were wounded by these chemical weapons," he added.
"You can see who is affected by chemical missiles by their
burns," said Erdogan, who told NBC Turkey would share
intelligence with the United Nations Security Council.
Washington has long said it views the use of chemical
weapons in Syria as a "red line." But, wary of the false
intelligence that was used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq, the
United States says it wants proof before taking any action.
Asked if Assad had crossed that line, Erdogan said: "Long
Assad's forces and opposing rebels have accused each other
of using chemical weapons. Erdogan told NBC he rejected the idea
that Assad's opponents has used such weapons because they lacked
access to them.
Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency said earlier on
Thursday that the country has sent a team of eight experts to
the border with Syria to test wounded victims of the country's
civil war for traces of chemical and biological weapons.
(Reporting by Paul Eckert and Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina