Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said the country's armed forces would never use internationally banned weapons, after the government and rebels traded blame for what both sides said was a chemical weapon attack near Aleppo.
Russia has accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons in an attack today, and saying it was an extremely alarming and dangerous development.
"A case of the use of chemical weapons by the armed opposition was recorded early in the morning of March 19 in Aleppo province," the Russian Foreign Ministry said after President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack.
"We are very seriously concerned by the fact that weapons of mass destruction are falling into the hands of the rebels, which further worsens the situation in Syria and elevates the confrontation in the country to a new level," the ministry said in a statement.
Eyewitnesses in Aleppo have told ITV News that earlier today they experienced a strong smell, followed by white smoke which has caused choking among those in the city, following reports of a chemical attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that 26 have been killed in the attack in Aleppo, including 16 soldiers.
"Sixteen Syrian regular army soldiers were killed in Khan al-Assal," Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters. "Ten more died in hospital but I cannot confirm if they are civilians or soldiers."