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Syria rebels, government report poison gas attack

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 12, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.

— Syrian government media and rebel forces said Saturday that poison gas had been used in a central village, injuring scores of people, while blaming each other for the attack.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack Friday hurt dozens of people in the village of Kfar Zeita in the central province of Hama. It did not say what type of gas was used.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that people suffered from suffocation and breathing problems after the attack, apparently conducted during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. It gave no further details.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front for using chlorine gas at Kfar Zeita, killing two people and injuring more than 100.

The TV report claimed the Nusra Front is preparing for another chemical attack against the Wadi Deif area in the northern province of Idlib, as well as another area in Hama. It did not explain how it knew the Nusra Front's plans.

An amateur video posted online by opposition activists showed a hospital room in Kfar Zeita that was packed with men and children, some of whom breathing through oxygen masks. On one bed, the video showed six children on a bed, some appearing to have difficulty breathing while others cried.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting of the attack.

Chemical weapons have been used before in Syria's 3-year-old conflict. In August, a chemical attack near the capital, Damascus, killed hundreds of people. The U.S. and its allies blamed the Syrian government for that attack, which nearly sparked Western airstrikes against President Bashar Assad's forces. Damascus denied the charges and blamed rebels of staging the incident.

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