More than 100 injured after gas attack in Syria
A toxic gas attack left more than 100 people hospitalized in the government-controlled city of Aleppo, the Syrian state news agency reported Sunday.
“Terrorist groups shelled residential areas in Aleppo with explosive projectiles containing toxic gas that led to civilians choking,” Cmdr. Gen. Issam al-Shilli of Aleppo Police told the Syrian Arab News Agency.
Some of those affected by the gas were hospitalized, with the severity of cases ranging from mild to medium, SANA reported, citing hospital sources. It said 107 people were injured.
The Syrian army responded by shelling the source of the attack, SANA reported, without providing additional details. Russian warplanes hit Syrian rebel targets, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 94 civilians, including dozens of children, suffered from asphyxiation following the attack in Aleppo.
Other gas attacks
The attack, if confirmed, would not be the first time gas has been used in the Syrian conflict.
In May, several Syrian activist groups reported that a brutal gas attack on the remnants of the rebel-held city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta left dozens of civilians dead and scores wounded.
The groups — including the White Helmets, the Douma Coordination Committee and the Ghouta Media Center — said toxic gas inside barrel bombs dropped by helicopters over Douma caused people to suffocate and choke.
Syrian state news agency SANA cited an “official source” who denied the allegations, and citing the same sources wrote that the Syrian Arab Army “does not need to use any chemical materials as claimed by terrorists’ media affiliates.”
In April 2017, more than 80 people were killed in a sarin attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun — an attack that prompted the United States to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.
A joint report from the United Nations and international chemical weapons inspectors last October determined the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.
Syria has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the attack and denies it has any chemical weapons. Damascus has said an airstrike hit a chemical weapons depot in the rebel-held area.
First attack since buffer zone created
The reported attack on Aleppo is the first such attack since Russia and Turkey agreed on establishing a demilitarized zone in the rebel-controlled Idlib province, according to the Observatory.
Announcing the agreement in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the creation of a 15- to 20-kilometer (approximately nine to 12 miles) demilitarized zone would prevent a “humanitarian crisis” in the northwestern province.
However, shelling from the regime and the rebels has killed and injured dozens of civilians and militants, according to the Observatory.
The Syrian regime has regained control of much of the country over the past few years, but Idlib has remained a bastion of rebel support.