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Middle East

Syrian forensic expert defects to Turkey with 'evidence' of chemical attack as explosion on border kills six


A Syrian forensic medicine expert allegedly with evidence that President Bashar al-Assad’s administration was the responsible party for the chemical attack near Aleppo in March has defected to Turkey.

An Istanbul-based opposition spokesperson said that Abdeltawwab Shahrour, former head of the forensic medicine committee in Aleppo, wishes to make public his evidence of the March 19 chemical attack at Khan al-Assal.

A second opposition official said that Shahrour has both documents and eye-witnesses on his side showing that Mr Assad  – not the rebels – was responsible for the attack.

Both sides have so far denied using chemical weapons.

Elsewhere in the region, an explosion on the Turkey-Syria border has killed six people, but media reports differ as to how and where the incident took place.

Turkish television sources reported the blast occurred at an ammunition depot in Altinozu, the southern-most province of Hatay which sits just above the Syrian border. Other media reports, however, said the explosion happened in a vehicle carrying scrap metal on the Syrian side of the border.

It is not yet known whether the incident is related to the wider Syrian conflict. The Altinozu province of Hatay is already known as a volatile area of Turkey: the Turkish Armed Forces confirmed that they had been involved in a skirmish with oil smugglers in the area in July, resulting in gunfire from both sides and five Turkish soldiers being wounded.

Additional reporting Reuters