Two Israeli news sites Sunday morning reported on a video allegedly posted by Syrian rebels over the weekend purporting to show four victims of a chemical attack outside Aleppo. With the possibility any use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s forces could prompt U.S., European or NATO intervention in the nearly two-year civil conflict, the allegation that chemical weapons have already been used could have dire consequences for President Assad.
TheBlaze is unable to verify the veracity of the tape. The video was loaded onto YouTube by someone calling himself Aziz Majid. Some of those commenting in English on YouTube suggest the video could have been staged while others believe it is authentic.
The tape shows four individuals who appear to be in a hospital. One man sits in a chair in a hallway, one woman sits on a gurney and, in the same room as her, two – either teenagers or young men - lay next to one another on a gurney. All of their faces appear to be disfigured, while bandages on hands and feet are visible.
The Times of Israel which first reported on the story early Sunday morning writes:
Syrian rebels on Saturday uploaded to YouTube a clip purportedly depicting victims of a chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the regime. The video shows Syrian civilians, some apparently dead and others injured, whose faces were disfigured in a manner that could be caused by a chemical agent.
The rebels claim that the video was filmed in a suburb of Aleppo, where the Syrian regime reportedly maintains its largest depot of chemical weapons.
On Saturday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry vowed government forces would never use nonconventional weapons on their own people.
“No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria,” said Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi.
The foreign minister suggested that opposition fighters could themselves use chemical weapons to frame the government and thus prompt international military intervention. “Terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people... after having gained control of a toxic chlorine factory” east of Aleppo, Makdisi said.
A story in Sunday’s New York Times suggests just how complicated intervention could be for the U.S. and its allies. The Times reports that Syrian rebels tied to Al Qaeda are playing a key role in the uprising, raising the question could Western intervention in the conflict end up aiding Islamic terrorists?
The Israeli site Arutz 7 offered this take on the video:
Fears of the worst possible scenario in Syria have been confirmed in a video released by rebels that shows victims of chemical warfare.[…]
An almost sure sign that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has unleashed his chemical weapons for use against rebels is his regime’s claim on Saturday that rebels are preparing to use chemicals in their uprising. Assad systematically has accused opposition forces, which he labels as “foreign terrorists,” of carrying out attacks and murders for which his own loyalists are responsible.[…]
If President Barack Obama thought that his warning would be enough to stop Assad, he apparently is mistaken. Assad knows that if he does not defeat the opposition, his fate is death, and probably in a way no more humane than his brutal suppression of the uprising if not in a way similar to that of his old friend, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Adding to reports from the U.S. last week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Saturday said he is concerned about growing the evidence the Syrian government could use chemical weapons:
"We are extremely concerned about the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and we are also concerned about evidence during the last couple of weeks that the regime could use them," Hague said, as quoted by AFP.
"We have contingency plans concerning chemical weapons but will not disclose them," he added. He said military intervention has not been “ruled out.”
Last Monday, President Barack Obama warned of consequences should Assad decide to use chemical weapons.
"The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable," he said.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the use of chemical weapons would "cross a red line for the United States,” though he did not say if the U.S. would militarily intervene.
Hopefully, one of the reporters on the ground in Syria will visit the hospital depicted in the video, interview the doctors or other eyewitnesses and provide further information on what exactly happened.
The full video can be seen here. Warning, the content is graphic: