The Syrian government’s ambassador to the United Nations on Monday told reporters in New York that a cache of toxic chemicals, “enough to destroy a city” and presumably left by opposition forces, was discovered in northwestern Syria.
Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the cache included about 280 containers filled with various toxic substances, such as ethylene glycol, ethanolamine, diethanolamine and triethanolamine.
“This is enough to destroy a whole city, if not the whole country,” Ja’afari said, without mentioning the date when the discovery was made. “At the moment, an investigation is underway with regard to this batch of chemical weapons.”
All the substances mentioned by Ja’afari are indeed harmful for humans, but are extensively used in various industrial and consumer products. None of them is considered a chemical weapon.
The Syrian ambassador said the cache was “controlled and supervised by armed anti-government groups.”
Both sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war have traded allegations regarding chemical weapons in recent months, with government officials accusing opposition forces of using chemical weapons against Assad’s military in a March attack outside of the northern city of Aleppo.
The Syrian diplomat invited a UN commission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the organization’s high representative for disarmament affairs, Angela Kane, to visit his country with another inspection.
However, he said, inspections would only be possible in Aleppo, but not in other Syrian regions as previously proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Some 93,000 people are believed to have died since fighting broke out between Syrian government forces and rebels in March 2011, according to the latest UN figures.