Syrian government and rebels accuse each other of using chemical weapons

Syrian government and opposition forces traded accusations over the alleged firing of a chemical weapon near the disputed city of Aleppo.

Neither claim has been confirmed, but two dozen people are reported to have been killed by the resulting chemical release. If verified, it would mark the first accepted use of chemical weapons during the two-year-old conflict and may signal a dangerous escalation in hostilities, according to the Washington Post.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the rebels used a rocket containing poison gases in the attack, which was launched from a portion of the town of Khan al-Assal under their control. The rebels claim the Syrian military launched a scud missile containing chemical agents.

The United States responded that it has seen no evidence of chemical weapons being used. Washington has called a chemical attack an event that would trigger a military response.

"We've seen reports from the Assad regime alleging that the opposition has been responsible for use," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, reports. "Let me just say that we have no reason to believe these allegations represent anything more than the regime's continued attempts to discredit the legitimate opposition and distract from its own atrocities committed against the Syrian people.

"We don't have any evidence to substantiate the regime's charge that the opposition even has CW (chemical weapons) capability."

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said enough information had been collected to determine that rebels launched a chemical attack.