Though US officials initially dismissed the claims as unlikely and unsubstantiated, they are now saying they have some indication of the use of a “toxic industrial chemical” in Syria’s Kfar Zeita two weeks ago.
Both government and rebels reported the incident, and blamed one another. They have identified the chemical as chlorine gas, and each insisted the other deliberately released it, though civilians and not combatants appear to have been the ones hit with the gas.
The US, as it so often does, couched the whole thing as a possible Assad government use, and didn’t suggest the rebels were even under suspicion. Yet Syria did not report chlorine as part of its significant chemical weapons arsenal, and most nations abandoned the gas in military use in favor of more effective chemicals around World War One.
Attempts to attribute blame aside, chlorine gas is a common enough chemical for industrial uses, and it seems entirely possible that during the intense fighting in Kfar Zeita the gas was inadvertently released.