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Fears of chemical weapons attacks in Syria

Fears of chemical weapons attacks in Syria

by Reuters

A man gasping for his breath seeks help amid reports that chemical weapons have been unleashed in Syria again.

The video, which can not be independently verified by Reuters, appears to show children among the wounded in Idlib province, in a war that has already cost the lives of more than 150,000 people.

Swathes of Idlib province are in the hands of various rebel groups and attacks in rebel-held areas are blamed on President Bashar al-Assad's forces by the opposition.

The U.S. says there are indications a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in a rebel-held area in Hama province mid-April shown here.

That incident was reported both by Syrian rebels and the government -- with each side blaming the other.

If proven, Chlorine gas attacks expose a major loophole in an international deal which promised to remove chemical weapons from Syria. It also suggests chemical warfare could persist after the removal operation is over.

Syria has vowed to hand over or destroy its entire arsenal by the end of this week, but still has roughly 20 percent of its chemical arsenal.