Chemical weapons in Darfur?

Passion of the Present is pointing to a new article out in Germany’s Die Welt, which asserts that the government of Sudan, in cooperation with Syria, has used chemical weapons on people in the Darfur region of Sudan. The story asserts that Sudanese and Syrian military officials met to discuss using chemical weapons in southern Sudan against the SPLA. Because peace talks were underway, tests occurred in western Sudan instead, against Darfur rebels. The report cites eyewitness accounts of frozen corpses with chemical burns arriving in Khartoum for examination by Syrian doctors.

AFP, UPI and Deutsche Welle have picked up the story, though all are reporting it as “Die Welt claims”, evidently waiting for further confirmation.

Die Welt’s report appears to rely on eyewitness reports given to ILAF, an Arabic news website based in the UK, and on “the documents of western intelligence services” presented to Die Welt. (translation from Google’s MT engine.) There’s an article from Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Expatica (a Netherlands-based web news site), which quotes an unnamed German intelligence source, who seems to disagree with the Die Welt story: “We find the details very surprising and would have evaluated them differently”.

Alphabetcity has pointed to a number of articles that speculate that Syria has been moving WMDs to Sudan, perhaps to avoid any future UN weapons inspections.

Obviously, this is story – should it be confirmed – has important and complex implications. Sudan apologists, who see global interest in Darfur as an interest in oil, are denouncing the story as a CIA plot. Folks on the right are asserting that this is evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons, which found their way from Baghdad to Damascus to Khartoum. And, should the story be confirmed, people pushing for US, EU or UN intervention in the Darfur conflict, will certainly point to the use of chemical weapons as another reason to intervene.

If anyone has strong enough Arabic to navigate and find the August 2nd story referenced by the Die Welt story, I’d be very interested in reading the eyewitness reports that appear to be behind this story.

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