UK says it will issue Syrian rebels with chemical warfare defenses including hoods, drugs

Britain says it is rushing to issue Syria's rebel fighters with chemical warfare protection, including escape hoods, drugs and chemical detector paper.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament Tuesday that roughly 655,000 pounds (nearly $1 million) worth of equipment would be sent to the rebels as "a matter of special urgency" because evidence suggests that Syrian President Bashar Assad has deployed chemical weapons against the opposition.

Syria is believed to have large stocks of the nerve gas sarin which Western powers, including the United States, say has been used to poison rebel fighters in urban areas.

Syrian officials deny the charge, alleging instead that rebels have used the arms against government forces.

Hoods and drugs can be used as short-term fixes to evade or treat sarin poisoning.