LE MONDE (France), BBC NEWS (UK), REUTERS
PARIS - French newspaper Le Monde revealed Monday that two of its reporters went undercover in Syria, where they witnessed the repeated use of chemical weapons by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
In a report issued on Le Monde's website, a special correspondent and a photographer describe the two months they spent clandestinely in Jobar, near Damascus, alongside Syrian rebels.
Describing a battlefield chemical attack, the reporter writes that it was like"a Pepsi can falling to the ground. No smell, no smoke, not even a hiss to indicate the release of toxic gas. Then come the symptoms. Men coughing violently. Eyes burning, pupils shrinking to the limit, vision blurring. Soon the men experience breathing troubles, sometimes sharply, they start vomiting and passing out. The fighters worst affected need to be evacuated before they suffocate."
Syria, which is not a member of the anti-chemical weapons convention, is believed to have one of the world's last remaining stockpiles of undeclared chemical arms, according to Reuters.
The confirmation of what had long been suspected comes as BBC News reveals that European Union foreign ministers are to discuss British and French calls for an easing of sanctions against Syria, so that weapons can be supplied to the rebels.
France and the UK are expected to argue that the move would increase pressure on Damascus for a political solution -- but several EU states are opposed to ending the arms embargo, which expires on May 31.