CHLORINE ATTACK: Opposition activists released video Friday purporting to show the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack in the village of Kafr Zeita in Hama province, with yellow smoke rising over the town following an explosion.

“Chemical weapons were used on Kafr Zeita three times over the course of two days—once on Friday and twice Saturday,” Hama-based citizen journalist Mamoun Abu Zeid told Syria Direct Sunday.

“Three have been killed by the poison gas, among them two children, in addition to almost 200 serious injuries,” he added. 

Pro-opposition news site Zaman al-Wasl cited doctors in Kafr Zeita who said that government forces had attacked Kafr Zeita with highly poisonous chlorine gas, which causes the lungs to fill with liquid and the body’s airways to contract, creating difficulty breathing.

Pro-Assad media likewise reported a chemical attack in Kafr Zeita, but blamed the attack on rebel fighters.

“Jabhat a-Nusra carried out an attack with poisonous liquid chlorine on the village of Kafr Zeita, killing two and injuring more than 100,” said Syrian state television Saturday.

Britain-based analyst Eliot Higgins posted an analysis of the alleged attack on Sunday, writing that photographic and video evidence pointed to the use of chlorine gas.

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“The markings, CL2, indicate the container [shown in photographs] has Chlorine gas inside it, with the name of the Chinese company Norinco also visible,” he writes.

“‘Bar’ is a reference to pressure, so it seems extremely likely this was a cylinder containing Chlorine gas.”

Kafr Zeita, which lies roughly 35 km north of the city of Hama, made headlines in February when Human Rights Watch alleged that Syrian government forces had targeted the village with internationally banned cluster bombs. 

Mamoun Abu Zeid, the citizen journalist in Kafr Zeita, suggested that the most recent attack on Kafr Zeita was a reprisal for rebel successes in the vicinity. 

“The poison gas attack on Kafr Zeita is revenge from the regime for the losses it has absorbed in northern Hama and especially in Mourik,” referring to a town just 9 km to  Kafr Zeita’s east. Mourik is strategically valuable for its proximity to the M5 highway between Hama and Idlib to the north, and has been the site of heavy fighting since rebel forces claimed control of the town in early February.

“The regime wants to strike rebels’ popular base, because it wasn’t able to defeat them militarily,” Abu Zeid added.

-April 13, 2014

Video courtesy of Abu Mehdi al-Hamawi.

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