High-ranking Syrian regime officials ordered soldiers to use chemical weapons against fighters and civilians in rebel-occupied areas, a former Syrian army officer and chemical warfare expert has declared.
In an interview with Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, Brigadier General Zaher Saket, a commander in the military’s 5th division who defected from President Bashar Assad’s army in March, claimed he had been instructed to attack rebels with poison gas on numerous occasions.
“I am a witness and received orders three times to use chemical gas last year,” Saket said.
The former Syrian officer said he had first received orders to make use of chemical weapons in October, though, he claimed, he had not complied with the directives.
“It was planned that I would place the material in a sealed explosive device with TNT and a connection to electrical power,” Saket said. “I did not implement the order.” He said he had instead created an impression of a chemical attack, dumping the deadly substances in a nearby trench.
Saket further claimed that chemical weapons had been transported into Lebanon to the hands of Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
On Monday, US officials said the results of a UN report on chemical weapons use in Syria clearly showed that the Assad regime was behind the August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb in which hundreds — the Obama administration put the toll at over 1,400 — were killed.
The UN report said there is “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in the attack. The findings represent the first official confirmation by scientific experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war, but the report left the key question of who launched the attack unanswered.