Syrian conflict: Saraqeb ‘attacked with chlorine gas’

Syrian conflict: Saraqeb ‘attacked with chlorine gas’

BEIRUT: A toxic gas containers were dropped on town in Syria’s Idlib province by helicopter , a rescue service operating in rebel-held territory said on Tuesday.

Nearly 33 civilians, including 18 women and 10 children, were brought to a local hospital after the attack .

Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian Civil Defense group said. “Just before midnight, helicopters dropped five explosive barrels containing cylinders of chlorine and shards of metal on neighbourhoods in Saraqeb,” he said.

“We suspect it was chlorine because of the smell and the nature of the injuries – suffocation and burning, red eyes. Members of the civil defense brought them all to the nearby hospital.”

A Russian military helicopter was shot down near Saraqeb on Monday, killing five crew. It is not clear who brought it down.

Dr Abdel Aziz Bareeh, who works in Saraqeb said .”We know it’s chlorine because we were hit by it in the past and we are familiar with its odour and symptoms.

Number of people were struggling to breathe and being given oxygen masks by people in civil defense uniforms.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition accused President Bashar Assad of being behind the attack .

The SNC said in a statement: “After shelling, besieging and killing civilians and perpetrating war crimes on them, the Assad regime has resorted once again, and in breach of UN resolutions 2118 and 2235, to using chemical substances and toxic gasses.

“The daily reality confirms that all the international agreements and previous security council decisions, be they about chemical weapons or otherwise, are meaningless for the Assad regime.”

The Civil Defence spokesman said it was the second time Saraqeb had been hit by toxic gas. The group was aware of around nine suspected chlorine gas incidents across Idlib province since the conflict began, he said.