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Israel voiced doubt on Tuesday about claims that chemical weapons had been used against rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Activists on Monday claimed civilians had suffered injuries consistent with exposure to some kind of poisonous gas. "We have seen reports from the opposition. It is not the first time. The opposition has an interest in drawing in international military intervention," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Army Radio. "As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or proof that (chemical weapons) have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern," he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gathered activist accounts on Sunday of what they said was a poison gas attack in the city of Homs. The reports are difficult to verify, as the government restricts media access in Syria. The Observatory, a British-based group with a network of activists across Syria, said those accounts spoke of six rebel fighters who died after inhaling smoke on the front line of Homs's urban battleground. It said it could not confirm that poison gas had been used and called for an investigation.
Syria has said it would never use chemical weapons against its citizens.
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Syria's foreign minister was defiant in his address to the United Nations on Monday, accusing the West of "blatant interference" and of supporting "terrorism" in the unrest that has plunged the country into an all-out civil war. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem blamed the West for their aid to the rebels who are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad's regime and who the regime maintains are led not by activists but by gangs and terrorists. Moallem said no peace would ever be achieved until Syria's neighbors — most of all Turkey, Libya and Gulf states — stopped arming the rebels. He called for a dialogue on how to map out a democratic future for Syria. Moallem's speech came just after, and despite, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's warnings to him earlier in the day over the violence that has killed tens of thousands and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee the country.
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