"We have no evidence of plans to use chemical weapons," nato ambassador alexander grushko said, according to information from the interfax agency. He accused nato of already interfering in the syrian conflict with the planned deployment of "patriot" missiles in turkey.
But even among the regime's opponents, there are many who believe the discussion of a poison gas operation is a diversionary maneuver by the U.S. They suspect that this danger is now being exaggerated by washington in order to have a pretext for activities against militant islamists in syria. "The americans are playing a dangerous game," said a syrian dissident in istanbul.
The head of the syrian national council (SNC), george sabra, on the other hand, said on the news channel al-arabiya that the use of poison gas by the regime could not be ruled out. The international community must move into action before it is too late.
Syrian rebels, meanwhile, are already preparing for the time after the fall of president baschar al-assad. Officers of the free syrian army (FSA) discussed a new leadership structure. The opponents of assad said that the deserters wanted to elect a chief of staff at their meeting in antalya, turkey, who would lead the army even after the expected fall of the regime. A rebel unit from the eastern city of deir as-saur, however, said it was not ready to recognize the new leadership.
Independent observers suspect that by building a unified leadership structure, the FSA wants to avoid having a command structure imposed on it through a post-assad plan that also satisfies assad's former partners russia and china. The demonstrations after friday prayers in syria were this time under the slogan "no to peacekeepers on syrian soil". One dissident said: "the international community has not helped us so far, so they don"t need to come now to protect the supporters of the assad regime."
In cairo, opposition negotiations on the formation of a transitional government also continued. Controversy arose over whether former minister-president riyadh hejab should be included in the government. Some opposition allies had suggested this in order to facilitate a later reconciliation between the civil war parties.
On friday, rebel fighting with government troops was concentrated mainly in the damascus area. The rebels released a video showing them on a captured tank in the village of harasta. On thursday, more than 80 people were killed in syria, according to activists. On friday, they also paid at least 80 dead by early evening. Most casualties again reportedly in the greater damascus area.