Syria’s government is once again facing accusations of using chemical weapons against civilians, with reports of a chlorine gas attack Tuesday in the divided city of Aleppo.
“Activists and doctors say the chlorine was dropped in an airstrike on a rebel-held part of Aleppo, affecting about 100 people,” NPR’s Alice Fordham reports on Morning Edition.
“About 40 of them were kids and there were about 15 women, the symptoms were very clearly chlorine attack,” Mohamad Katoub, a doctor with the Syrian American Medical Society, tells Alice.
At least one person reportedly died.
Syrian Civil Defense member Ibrahim Alhaj spoke with The Associated Press, which reports that he “got to the scene in the crowded al-Sukkari neighborhood shortly after a helicopter dropped barrels containing what he said were four chlorine cylinders.” Alhaj added that he “had difficulty breathing and used a mask soaked in salt water to prevent irritation.”
Video released by the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, shows men hosing down civilians, many of them children. Kids wearing oxygen masks are seen sobbing and gasping for breath. A warning: The images might be disturbing to some.
There were at least two reports of possible chlorine attacks last month in Aleppo, according to the AP, which adds that Syria’s government has accused the opposition of using chlorine gas.
Katoub’s organization “has counted 167 chemical weapon attacks in the course of Syria’s civil war,” Alice reports. “He estimates 90 percent of them were conducted by the regime. The regime denies using chemical arms.”
But a yearlong investigation by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, released last month, concluded that “at least two chemical attacks have been committed by the Syrian regime,” Alice reports.
In response to the findings, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said, “It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people.”