Syrian President Bashar Assad is planning another chemical attack on civilians, the Istanbul-based opposition group Syrian National Council warned on Tuesday, urging the West once more to take swift action against the regime.
Assad is believed to have used unconventional weapons against the rebels several times in the past year, but the Aug. 21 attack on suburbs east of Damascus was allegedly the first time the Syrian regime deliberately targeted a civilian population. The Syrian president, who commands the world's biggest stockpile of chemical weapons, denies having used them.
The U.S. put the death toll from the attack -- in which it said sarin gas was used -- at 1,429 people, including 426 children.
SNC spokesman Khaled al-Saleh was quoted by the Turkish media as saying that his organization had proof that three military convoys carrying chemical warheads had left their base in Qutayfah, northeast of Damascus, on Monday, and that two of them had already reached their destinations, the Al-Dumayr Military Airport on the outskirts of the Syrian capital and a Syrian army base in Ezraa, in southwestern Syria.
Saleh said the information came from a Syrian military official "sympathetic to the opposition's cause."
Meanwhile, Sky News Arabia reported Tuesday that the international community was closer to proving that Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels at least 13 times since the Syrian civil war erupted in March 2011.
According to the report, the head of the Forensic Medicine Department in Aleppo, Abdel Tawwab Shahrou, has fled Syria for Turkey, joining the ranks of the opposition. The report said that Shahrou had documented proof that Assad's forces used chemical weapons in an attack in March on Khan al-Assal, in the northern province of Aleppo.
Ahmad Jarba, chairman of the Istanbul-based National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, confirmed that Shahrou had defected and that he was in possession of the relevant documents.
Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil has also confirmed Shahrou's defection.