Saudi-backed rebels behind Syria chemical attack: report

Saudi-backed rebels behind Syria chemical attack: report
Sat Aug 31, 2013 15:06:49

Rebels and local residents in Syria's Ghouta say Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan provided chemical weapons to an al-Qaeda-linked armed group.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, indicated the Saudi-backed militants could be responsible for the recent deadly chemical attack in Syria.

The US has been moving its warships closer to Syria, russhing to bomb army and government bases, based on conflicting reports over an alleged chemical attack in Ghouta near capital Damascus.

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, militant fighters and their families, a different picture emerges, the Mint Press News reported.

Many of the residents believe that certain militants received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the gchemical attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a militant fighting to unseat the Syrian government, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other militants were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the militants were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the terrorist Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaeda, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Syrian government’s heartland of Latakia on its western coast, in purported retaliation.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, does not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known militant leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other militants, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary militants to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen militants interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.


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