Activists claim 2 dead in new Kafr Zeita chlorine attack

MORE CW? Activists in Syria’s central Hama province published photographs and video purporting to show the aftereffects of a chlorine gas attack on the Hama village of Kafr Zeita Monday night, claiming that the attacks had killed two and injured more than 100.

“A 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy with special needs were killed after inhaling the gas,” Mamoun Abu Zeid, an activist with the pro-opposition Hama Media Center (HMC) told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The Syrian regime has consistently denied use of chlorine gas in any attacks, though chlorine was not specifically included on the list of chemicals to be removed from Syria.

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal al-Mekdad rejected reports that Damascus used chlorine gas as a weapon last month, telling CNN last week that “chlorine gas has never been used as a weapon.”

Local activists released video Monday night claiming to show adults and children choking violently after the alleged attack.

“Given the severity of the injuries and the number of injured, we believe there was more gas and that the gas was more concentrated” than previous attacks, HMC spokesman Hakam Abu Riyan told Syria Direct Tuesday morning.

The attack, if confirmed, would be the third of its kind against Kafr Zeita in 40 days. Human Rights Watch last week cited “strong evidence” that government forces attacked the village with chlorine-filled barrel bombs on April 11 and 18; eyewitness accounts related to Syria Direct confirm the central details of HRW’s reporting.

Activists say the regime may be targeting the village for its proximity to Mourik, a strategic, rebel-held town that sits some 8km east of Kafr Zeita along the the M5 international highway connecting Damascus with central and northern Syria.

Kafr Zeita also lies roughly 9km southwest of Khan Sheikhoun, another contested rebel-held town along the M5. The regime controls the highway as rebels battle for pieces of it.

The use of chlorine gas as a weapon is banned under an international treaty approved by Syria in October 2013. 

Photo courtesy of Hama Media Center.

-May 20, 2014.

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