A senior Russian lawmaker and Syria's government are accusing the US of fabricating evidence of chemical weapons use by the regime of Bashar al-Assad to justify intervention in the 27 month-old civil war.
On Thursday a US official said that President Barack Obama has authorized sending US weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time in light of the chemical weapons confirmation.
"Information about the use by Assad of chemical weapons has been fabricated in the same place as the lies about (Saddam) Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign policy committee in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, reportedly said on Twitter. "Obama is taking the same path as George Bush."
A statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry in Damascus reportedly said that the US statements are "full of lies" and America is resorting to "cheap tactics" to justify Obama's decision to arm the rebels.
That being said, it's clear that chemical weapons have been used in the conflict.
On December 23 there were multiple reports the Homs attack, and doctors belonging to Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) subsequently corroborated the claims when they described a "probable" use of what chemical specialists refer to as Agent-15 (known as BZ to NATO).
And on March 19 two separate chemical weapons attacks occurred — one outside of Aleppo and the other outside of Damascus. At the time experts doubted that Syrian rebels had the capability of firing a homemade rocket 20 miles (as the government claimed) or deliver enough pungent gas to hurt dozens of people.
On the other hand, Syria and Russia do have a right to be skeptical after the WMD debacle in Iraq.
CJ chivers of The New York Times, who has been reporting from northwestern Syria, had this to say:
It's unclear what the international response will be as the West has become increasingly concerned about the rise of al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels.
On Thursday The Wall Street Journal reported that the US proposal to arm rebels included a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who train there
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