DAMASCUS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Recent reports of alleged use of chemical weapons outside the Syrian capital has raised questions whether it would trigger foreign military intervention, or doom any political endeavors to solve the crisis.
Pro-opposition activists on Wednesday alleged that government troops used chemical weapons in attacking rebel-held areas in the eastern countryside of Damascus, posting hunting photos and video footage of victims, including women and children. The government has denied such allegations as part of a "dirty" media war against Syria.
Syria's main opposition group in exile, the National Coalition, said in a statement that 1,193 people were killed in the attack.
The latest episode of accusations and rejections came amid a United Nations mission here to investigate possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
The probe was requested by the Syrian government, which accuses Western-backed rebels of using sarin agent in the northern town of Khan al-Asal.
The incident unleashed a barrage of international fury, prompting the UN Security Council to underline the need for " clarity" and pushing France to threat resorting to "force" if it is confirmed that Syrian government forces indeed used chemical weapons.
"There would have to be reactions with force in Syria from the international community, but there is no question of sending in ground troops," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday.
Western powers, mainly the U.S., have previously warned that any use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" that could draw a harsh reaction.
So far, the West has shown little appetite for military intervention in Syria. Some local analysts believe the Western powers which support the armed rebellion in Syria are following a "soft war" tactic -- providing means to insurgents in Syria to destroy the country from inside-out without the need to smear their hands personally in the quagmire of a regional war that could threaten Israel and drag on for many years to come.
They said that the French comments were meant only to give the media something to talk about, and lift the morale of the armed rebels on the ground.
Anis Naqqash, a famous Lebanese political expert, described the rebels' claims as a "media whirlwind," saying the accusations are totally untrue.
"It's illogical that the party that called on the UN to come probe the rebels' use of chemical weapons to use such weapons!" Naqqash told the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV.
Naqqash said the rebels stormed Khan al-Asal town ahead of the arrival of the UN inspection team to wipe evidence of their use of chemical weapons on the restive town.
He added that a physician who treated the victims of the attack was kidnapped when the rebels overran Khan al-Asal.
Naqqash said the reported attack on Wednesday outside Damascus was to "divert the inspection team's attention from Khan al-Asal" and to protect the opposition from any direct accusation in the Security Council and to win popular sympathy.
Meanwhile, Turki Hasan, a Syrian political expert, told Xinhua that "the opposition and the regional countries, mostly the Gulf States, have called for a foreign military intervention since the first days of the crisis and each time they were pinning hopes on that matter but they failed to bring in intervention."
"And since they failed to attract intervention, they started asking the parties that want to intervene to take that step," Hasan said. "There are two parties: the countries that want, but can't intervene, such as the Gulf States, Turkey and Jordan, and the countries that can, but don't want to intervene, like the United States and NATO."
"The United States doesn't want to intervene... because any intervention in Syria would pose a threat to the U.S.," he said, citing comments by Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staffs, who, in a letter to Congress, ruled out any desire for a U.S. attack on Syria.
Dempsey said the U.S. military is capable of taking out the government air force and shifting the balance of the war back toward the armed opposition, but such an approach would plunge Washington deep into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.
Others, such as Safwan Akkashe, a member of the opposition National Coordination Body (NCB), said foreign intervention is possible.
"Using chemical weapons represents a crime against humanity," he said. "Whoever was behind it, there are political options and the eventualities (of foreign intervention) are open."