The Syrian government has been accused of carrying out another chemical weapons attack, rescue workers and activists say.
The attack took place in Ghouta, a rebel-held enclave, which is east of Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people suffered suffocation from the use of chlorine gas.
The White Helments civil defense rescue force also said the same number of civilians, including women and children, were injured in the attack. But other reports put the number slightly higher, at 21 civilians.
Douma is in the eastern Ghouta, a suburb east of Damascus where almost 400,000 people have been under siege by the Syrian government and allied militia since 2013. Eastern Ghouta is the last major rebel position close to the capital.
The health directorate for opposition-held areas in the Damascus region said patient symptoms “suggest they have been exposed to chlorine gas inhalation”.
It said patients said the smell around the attack site resembled chlorine.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, quoting local medical and other sources, said “gasses” released during a dawn rocket attack on Douma city caused “cases of suffocation”. (Reuters)
The latest attack comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to attend the launch of the International Partnership Against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons. According to the State Department, he will deliver remarks about Syria and chemical weapons.
“Obviously, we know chemical weapons are being used in Syria. We've seen it,” Tillerson told reporters.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, said the U.S. has not yet confirmed the latest report of chemical weapons, but told reporters: “Civilians are being killed and it is not acceptable.”
He also placed some of the blame on Russia.
“Russia had failed to rid Syria of chemical weapons, and they’ve been blocking chemical weapons organizations. Enough is enough,” he warned.