Just after reports of a government airstrike on a bakery in the rebel-held town of Halfaya, which killed more than 60 Syrians waiting for bread provisions, new reports are that poisonous gas has been used on rebels. Some are beginning to wonder if this will prompt U.S. intervention.
Al Jazeera reported Sunday that those fighting under Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime used nerve gas on rebel forces. David Axe for Wired’s Danger Room reported that if this is true — and he says “that’s a huge if” — then it could come with “serious implications for the rest of the world.”
Here’s what Al Jazeera wrote in its report of the alleged gassing:
Seven people have died in Homs after they inhaled a “poisonous gas” used by government forces in a rebel-held neighbourhood, activists said.
Activists also told Al Jazeera on Sunday night that scores of others were affected in al-Bayyada neighbourhood. Side effects reported include nausea, relaxed muscles, blurred vision, and breathing difficulties.
Residents said they did not know the nature of the gas used.
“The situation is very difficult. We do not have enough facemasks. We don’t know what this gas is but medics are saying it’s something similar to Sarin gas,” Raji Rahmet Rabbou, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera.
A doctor treating patients subsequently said the gas seemed to be a concentrated form of tear gas that has not been used in Homs before. Inhaling large amounts can lead to suffocation and death, he said.
The gas appears to have been used during a battle with rebel fighters.
Al Jazeera included this along with its post. It appears that the man is being treated medically after being gassed (Content warning: Disturbing images):
The translated title of the video (via Google Translate) reads “Homs Mahasrhatalaq chemical gases crippling nerve and temporary loss of sight.”
Business Insider pointed to a Google+ page that lists the names of alleged victims killed by “Agent 15” nerve gas. The page also has several more videos listing cases of suffocation due to the gas and a doctor commenting on the cases.
The Google+ page written by Cham Shareef includes that more than 50 people were exposed to the gas and 12 are in critical condition. Effects of the gas, according to Shareef, include suffocation, nerve paralysis, temporary blindness, change in skin color, nauseous, and hysteria and hallucinations.
This video shows the effects on the victim of the alleged poison gas as well (Warning: Disturbing images):
The threat of chemical warfare in Syria has long been present, but these reports might be an indication that it’s not longer just a threat.
If the gas was in fact used, Wired pointed out Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that the U.S. was “certainly planning to take action” if chemical weapons were used in Syria.
Business Insider included that 63 percent of people responding to a Washington Post poll last week would support American intervention in Syria if chemical warfare began.