Saturday, September 18, 2004

Syria tested chemical arms on civilians in Sudan's Darfur?

A while back, in my main blog, I published a post reporting that chemicals may have been dropped by air in the Sudan. If I recall correctly, the post was about a reporters interview with a Sudanese civilian who claimed to have knowledge of bags of white powder appearing on the ground that proved poisonous. When I find the report, I will link it here.

Last week, a rush of news reports appeared online, emanating the German daily Die Welt that claimed Syria tested chemical weapons on civilians in Darfur in June and killed dozens of poeple. Here is an excerpt, courtesy Sudan Tribune:

BERLIN, Sept 14 (AFP) -- Syria tested chemical weapons on civilians in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region in June and killed dozens of people, the German daily Die Welt claimed in an advance release of its Wednesday edition.

The newspaper, citing unnamed western security sources, said that injuries apparently caused by chemical arms were found on the bodies of the victims.

It said that witnesses quoted by an Arabic news website called ILAF [www.elaph.com] in an article on August 2 had said that several frozen bodies arrived suddenly at the "Al-Fashr Hospital" in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in June.

Die Welt said the sources had indicated that the weapons tests were undertaken following a military exercise between Syria and Sudan.

Syrian officers were reported to have met in May with Sudanese military leaders in a Khartoum suburb to discuss the possibility of improving cooperation between their armies.

According to Die Welt, the Syrians had suggested close cooperation on developing chemical weapons, and it was proposed that the arms be tested on the rebel SPLA, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, in the south.

But given that the rebels were involved in peace talks, the newspaper continued, the Sudanese government proposed testing the arms on people in Darfur.

Details of what were in the weapons were not disclosed.

The Sudanese government has been accused of arming and backing Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, which have rampaged through the western Darfur region for the past 19 months.

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million more uprooted in a campaign against Darfur's black African population, which began in February 2003 when Khartoum and the Janjaweed cracked down on a rebel uprising.

The United States has accused Syria of trying to acquire materials and the know-how to develop chemical weapons and claims that Sudan has been seeking to improve its capability to produce them for many years.

http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=5432
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Syria chemical arms tested on civilians?

Here is a copy, in full, of a report by Aaron Klein at WorldNetDaily.com

Syria, which has long denied maintaining a chemical or biological weapons arsenal, reportedly tested chemical weapons on civilians in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region in June, killing dozens of people.

Injuries caused by chemical arms were found on the bodies of the victims, according to unnamed sources quoted by the German daily Die Welt newspaper and witnesses who talked with the Arab news ILAF last month.

Several frozen bodies arrived suddenly at the "Al-Fashr Hospital" in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in June, reported ILAF.

Die Welt said its sources had indicated the weapons tests were undertaken following a military exercise between Syria and Sudan after a meeting in May between Sudanese military leaders and Syrian officers in a Khartoum suburb to discuss the possibility of improving coordination between their armies.

After the Syrians reportedly suggested close cooperation on developing chemical weapons, it was proposed that the arms be tested on the rebel SPLA, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, in the south.

The Sudanese government then allegedly requested testing the chemicals on people in Darfur since they were involved in peace talks with the rebels.

As WorldNetDaily reported, the U.S. declared last week the rape, pillaging and slaughter of blacks in western Sudan by the Islamist Khartoum regime and its Arab militia allies is genocide, under the 1948 U.N. convention.

The reports are extremely damaging to Syria's Bashar Assad, who has been under international pressure after the recent passing of the Syrian Accountability Act in Congress, which accuses Damascus of supporting terror groups including Hezbollah, failing to stop anti-U.S. fighters from crossing into Iraq from Syria and maintaining 25,000 troops in Lebanon.

The White House also has accused Syria of having one of the most advanced chemical weapons programs in the Arab world, with stocks of the agents Sarin and VX.

Assad has drawn the ire of Israel as well for allowing the top leadership of Hamas to live openly in Damascus. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Syria, which harbors the overall leader of Hamas, Khalid Meshel, for a recent suicide bombing that killed 16 people in a southern Israeli city, and several Israeli officials have said the Jewish state plans to send a strong message to Assad.

In a recent WorldNetDaily exclusive interview, Syria's Ambassador to the UN Fayssel Mekdad denied his country has chemical weapons. "These are mere allegations and they cannot be substantiated," he said.

Mekdad also denied allegations Syria is aiding the insurgency against American troops in Iraq by allowing terrorists to pass through the Syrian border.

"I mean, not a single proof was given to Syria that we have helped, aided or supported elements that are carrying out attacks, or even giving them information from the Syrian side. I would like to confirm 100 percent for this interview that Syria has done nothing at all, and not a single proof has been given to us, not a single one," said Mekdad.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=40454
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UPDATE: Sunday September 19, 2004:

Here is a copy of a post - from my main blog ME AND OPHELIA - dated Thursday, August 19, 2004:

GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS?
Villagers in Sudan describe poisoning

On August 17, 2004, the Washington Times published a report by Levon Sevunts. Here is an excerpt:

SHEGEK KARO, Sudan — Inhabitants of this picturesque village in the Darfur region of western Sudan said the Sudanese air force sprayed them with a strange powder in an attack in May that killed two villagers and dozens of cattle.

Another bomb, dropped by a jet fighter on the same day, produced a poisonous smoke that injured about 50 villagers on the other side of the village, the villagers said.

A Sudanese air force Antonov plane dropped several rectangular plastic sacks containing a white, flourlike powder on a wadi — a dry riverbed — in the lower part of the village, they said.

"This is the first time I'm hearing about this," a spokeswoman for Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed said. She promised the embassy would look into the matter.

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