The New Zealand Herald
Strikes up the ante in Syrian conflict
First responders entering apartments in Douma on Sunday said they found bodies collapsed on floors, some foaming at the mouth. The Syrian Civil Defence rescue organisation said the victims appeared to have suffocated. The organisation, also known as the White Helmets, and the Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organisation, did not identify the substance used but said survivors treated at clinics smelled strongly of chlorine.
Hours after the attack, the Army of Islam rebel group agreed to surrender the town and evacuate its fighters to rebel-held northern Syria, Syrian state media reported. The group also agreed to release its prisoners, a key government demand.
More than 100 buses entered Douma on Monday to take the fighters and their families to Jarablus, which is under the shared control of Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces, Syrian state-affiliated alIkhbariya TV said. The evacuations follow a pattern of departures around the capital and other major Syrian cities as the Government reasserts its control after seven years of war.
In his tweets on Monday, Trump called Assad an “animal” and delivered a rare personal criticism of Putin for supporting him.
Douma is part of the eastern Ghouta suburbs, where a 2013 chemical attack killed hundreds of people and was widely blamed on the Government. The US threatened military action but later backed down.
Syria denies ever using chemical weapons during the war and says it eliminated its chemical arsenal under a 2013 agreement brokered by the US and Russia.