Report: Afghan Government Distributing Gas Masks
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Afghan government has begun dispensing gas masks and other chemical warfare equipment to its army, according to a report published Sunday quoting a member of the U.S.-backed resistance forces as saying the move could be a preparation for the use of chemical weapons.
Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, who commands one faction of Afghan resistance fighters, last week told a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that refugees from Jalalabad had confirmed troops there were getting the equipment, The Washington Post reported.
Wardak told CSIS fellow Marin Strmecki the refugees had given him ″confirmed information″ of the supply operation, The Post said.
Strmecki recently spend five weeks in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the rebels.
The use of chemical weapons would be ″a significant threat″ to the resistance on two fronts, said Wardak, who heads guerrilla forces of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan.
NIFA forces have struck against government troops in Jalalabad for nearly two months in an attempt to gain control of the stronghold of the Kabul government.
At least two members of Congress, Reps. Chalres Wilson, D-Texas, and John E. Porter, R-Ill., have received reports about the gas masks, according to The Post. But Defense and State department sources told the newspaper they could not confirm the reports.