Deadly gas at­tack re­ported on Syrian rebel en­clave, Da­m­as­cus de­nies

Stabroek News Sunday - - NEWS -

BEIRUT (Reuters) - 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 or­gan­i­sa­tion 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.

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 alIs­lam.

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 or­gan­i­sa­tion 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 U.S.-based vice president of SAMS, told Reuters the to­tal death toll in the chem­i­cal at­tacks was 35. “We are con­tact­ing the UN and the US gov­ern­ment and the Euro­pean gov­ern­ments,” he said by tele­phone.

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