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Syrian soldiers suffer chemical suffocation in rebels-held area

Some Syrian soldiers on Saturday suffered suffocation after rebel militants released chemical substance around their hideouts near the capital Damascus, the state-TV reported.

Earlier in the day, the soldiers were suffocated while entering the rebels-held suburb of Jobar, the state TV said, adding that some of them are in critical conditions.

The report said that the army had besieged the area and started to push into the area, but the rebels surprised them by releasing chemical substances amid heavy clashes.

The government and the opposition have repeatedly accused each other of using chemical gases during the country's 29-month-old crisis.

The incident came a couple of days after the rebels accused the government troops of using sarin agent against the rebellious countryside of Eastern al-Ghouta near Damascus. But the government denied the accusation, saying the incident only plays in the hand of the rebels to draw in their long-dreamed foreign intervention in Syria.

Also on Saturday, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, arrived in Damascus to press for expanding the mission of the UN chemical weapon investigation team.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called on the Syrian government to allow the UN inspectors, who are already on ground in Syria, to have access to the Eastern al-Ghouta countryside.

The UN inspection team is in Syria to investigate previous claims of chemical weapons use in the northern Khan al-Assal town and two other undisclosed locations.

The team arrived upon the call of the Syrian government whose leaders have accused the Western-backed rebels of using chemical substances in attacking pro-government areas in Khan al-Assal.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 24Aug13]

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