Deadly gas attack reported on civilians in a Syrian rebel enclave

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At least 35 civilians are reported dead in an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held Syrian town.
Activists and journalists took to Twitter to share disturbing and graphic videos showing scores of dead bodies with white foam around their mouths and noses.
The US State Department said it was monitoring the situation and that Russia is to blame if chemical weapons were used.
Syrian state media denied that government forces had launched any chemical attacks.

A Syrian rebel group accused government forces on Saturday of launching a deadly chemical attack on civilians in a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta, and a medical relief organization said 35 people had been killed in chemical attacks on the area.

Syrian state media denied government forces had launched any chemical attack and said rebels in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma were in a state of collapse and spreading false news.

The US State Department said it was monitoring the situation and that Russia should be blamed if chemicals were used.

Reuters could not independently verify reports of a chemical attack, but activists and journalists posted disturbing and graphic photos and videos on Twitter showing injured children and dead bodies with white foam pouring out of their mouths and noses.

The Syrian government has recaptured nearly all of eastern Ghouta from rebels in an offensive that began in February, leaving just Douma in the hands of an insurgent group, Jaish al-Islam.

Russian-backed Syrian government forces resumed the assault on Friday afternoon with heavy air strikes after days of calm.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 people had died in Douma as a result of suffocation caused by the smoke from conventional weapons being dropped by the government. It said a total of 70 people suffered breathing difficulties.

Rami Abdulrahman, the Observatory director, said he could not confirm if chemical weapons had been used.

Medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said a chlorine bomb hit Douma hospital, killing six people, and a second attack with “mixed agents” including nerve agents had hit a nearby building.

Basel Termanini, the US-based vice president of

SAMS, told Reuters the total death toll in the chemical attacks was 35. “We are contacting the U.N. and the US government and the European governments,” he said by telephone.

The political official of Jaish al-Islam said the chemical attack had killed 100 people.

A US State Department official in a statement said the Syrian government’s history of using chemical weapons against its own people “was not in dispute”. “Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons,” the official said.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the rebel group in Douma, Jaish al-Islam, was making “chemical attack fabrications in an exposed and failed attempt to obstruct advances by the Syrian Arab army,” citing an official source.

In the face of military defeat, rebel groups in other parts of eastern Ghouta opted to accept safe passage out of the area to the opposition-held territory at the Turkish border.

Several thousand people — fighters and …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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