Friday 22 June 2018

Syria attacks: Children among the victims after suspected chlorine gas attack

Man with a child are seen in hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. Picture taken February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Man with a child are seen in hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. Picture taken February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A child and a man are seen in hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. Picture taken February 25,2018.REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Men are seen walking near damaged building in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Several people suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta district near Damascus on Sunday, and one child was killed, the health authorities in the opposition-held area said in a statement.

Victims, ambulance drivers and others smelt chlorine after "an enormous explosion" in the eastern Ghouta in the area of al-Shayfouniya, said the statement issued by the local branch of the opposition Syrian Interim Government's Ministry of Health.

INNOCENT VICTIM: A wounded child receives treatment at a makeshift hospital in Ghouta last week
INNOCENT VICTIM: A wounded child receives treatment at a makeshift hospital in Ghouta last week
A young Syrian girl wounded during airstrikes Photo: AP
A wounded girl is seen in a hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Member of Syrian Civil Defense group carrying a young man who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
Wounded children are seen in a hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
An injured Syrian man who was wounded by the shelling of the Syrian government forces, waits to receive treatment at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
Syrian children cry at a make-shift hospital in Douma following air strikes on the Syrian village of Mesraba in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Hamza Al-AjwehHAMZA AL-AJWEH/AFP/Getty Images
Member of the Syrian Civil Defense group carries a boy who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. . (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
Wounded children and man are seen in a hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Smoke from an air raid rises in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Two Syrian kids who were wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, sit at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
A Syrian man waits to receive treatment at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna following government air strikes on the town of Jisreen, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. AFP PHOTO / Ammar SULEIMANAMMAR SULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Syrian Civil Defense group help residents during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
An injured man is trapped under the rubble of a damaged building in the besieged eastern Ghoua region on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus (above).Photo: AP
(Syrian Civil Defence White Helmets via AP)

"At least 18 victims were treated with oxygen nebulizing sessions."

The Syrian army could not immediately be reached for comment. The Syrian government has consistently denied using chemical weapons in the war that will soon enter its eighth year.

The Russian defence ministry, which backs the Syrian government in the war, on Sunday accused rebels of preparing to use toxic agents in eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that reports on the war, confirmed a child had died from suffocation in eastern Ghouta but said it could not confirm if poison gas had been used, its director told Reuters by phone.

INNOCENT VICTIM: A wounded child receives treatment at a makeshift hospital in Ghouta last week
INNOCENT VICTIM: A wounded child receives treatment at a makeshift hospital in Ghouta last week

Video circulated on social media networks purporting to show the aftermath of the attack depicted a child's corpse wrapped in a blue shroud, and several bare chested men and young boys appearing to struggle for breath, with some holding nebulisers to their mouths and noses.

Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus, has been targeted in a fierce government offensive that got underway last week.

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce across Syria. The Observatory said Sunday's bombardment of eastern Ghouta was less intense than last week, but 14 people were still killed.

In recent weeks, the United States has accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas as a weapon. Rebel-held areas of the Ghouta region were hit in a major chemical attack in 2013.

A child and a man are seen in hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. Picture taken February 25,2018.REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A child and a man are seen in hospital in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. Picture taken February 25,2018.REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Last year, a joint inquiry by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found the Syrian government was responsible for an April 4, 2017 attack using the banned nerve agent sarin in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing dozens of people.

The inquiry had previously found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State militants used mustard gas.

Men are seen walking near damaged building in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Men are seen walking near damaged building in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

The Russian defence ministry said rebel leaders were "preparing a provocation with employment of toxic material, aiming at accusing the governmental forces of using chemical weapons against civilian population".

The statement was released by a Russian ceasefire monitoring centre, which is run by the Russian military, and published on the defence ministry's website.

Reuters

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