Syrian opposition groups have claimed that hundreds of people were killed in chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on Wednesday.
According to The Guardian, the death toll is unclear, with different groups issuing different estimates, but most put the figure in the hundreds. Leading opposition figure George Sabra claimed 1,300 have been killed, while the local co-ordination committees put the death toll at 1,360. Other figures were significantly lower. The Guardian cannot independently verify the figures.
The UK, France, Germany, the EU and the Arab League were among those who expressed concern about reports of the attacks and called for the UN to investigate the allegations, with the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, and the French president, François Hollande, both saying they would refer the matter to the UN.
Hague said that if the reports were confirmed, they would mark a "shocking escalation" in the use of such weapons.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army denied allegations by the foreign-backed militants and opposition activists that it carried out the chemical attack.
"Allegations of the use of chemical arms by the Syrian Arab Army today in areas of Damascus province ... are null, void and totally unfounded," the military said in a statement read out by an officer on state television on Wednesday.
The Syrian army also described the allegations as part of the ongoing media war against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
"These allegations by the terrorist groups and the satellite channels that support them are just a desperate bid to conceal their failures on the battlefield and reflect the state of hysteria and collapse that these (militant) groups are in," the statement added.
The government troops have recently conducted successful clean-up operations across the country, inflicting heavy losses on the militants.
The Syrian army’s push against the militants rattled their sponsors.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said on June 26 that Saudi Arabia is trembling with fear because of the Syrian Army’s recent successes against the militants.
In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal insisted on June 25 that the militants in Syria must be armed with anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.
Zoubi said that the Saudi weapons and money is the main reason behind bloodshed in Syria, adding that Faisal “is lost in the Syrian blood.”
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to the United Nations, more than 100, 000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced in the violence.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader