Victims of alleged gas attack smuggled into Jordan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 7:56am

At least three victims of the alleged chemical-weapons attack in east Damascus on Thursday have been smuggled to Jordan, where samples of their blood and urine will be tested.

The samples could help inform an international response to the alleged attack.

United Nations inspectors in Damascus were denied access for a second day to the affected areas of the capital - only 15 kilometres from their hotel.

Sources inside rebel-held districts said a network of defectors, some of whom had fled the Syrian military's chemical-warfare division, were helping to smuggle biological samples from the scenes of the attack to Jordan. They said that at least three more victims suffering mild effects of gassing would be transferred to Jordan in the next few days.

The samples being sourced are biopsies of livers and spleens from fatalities, as well as blood and urine from survivors.

Rebel groups said they had been contacted by investigators identifying themselves as UN team members, asking for co-operation in providing samples. The investigators have apparently asked for biological samples to be taken from animals, too.

The Syrian government has denied the chemical-weapons allegations, but has not made public statements about whether it would allow the UN inspectors into the area in question.

A questionnaire distributed to some rebel commanders asks for GPS co-ordinates of the alleged attacks and launch sites as well as all medical records of victims, laboratory results and environmental samples.

Chemical-weapons experts said that symptoms of the dead and dying depicted on videos posted online supported the view that sarin nerve gas was used in an attack, which may have killed up to 1,400 people.