Syria: Chemical gas attack kills at least 70, President Trump blames Russia, Iran

08 April 2018, 09:15 PM
Syria: Poison gas attack kills at least 70, Trump blames Russia, Iran (Source: PTI)
Syria: Poison gas attack kills at least 70, Trump blames Russia, Iran (Source: PTI)

At least 70 people were reported to be dead and many severely injured in an apparent chemical gas attack on a surrounded enclave in Douma, one of the last rebel-held town and a city near Damascus in Syria, news agencies reported.

The incident took place on Saturday when the government forces were trying to recapture the last rebel-held town in Syria’s eastern Ghouta, rescuers from the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS) said.

Raed al-Saleh, the head of White Helmets, said, “Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating.”

The SAMS, in a joint statement with Civil Defense, said, “More than 500 people were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent. The patients showed signs of respiratory distress, many were foaming at the mouth and also emitted a chlorine-like odor.”

The Civil Defense reported that they found the entire families suffocated in their homes and neighbouring shelters. However, they added that it was not possible to confirm the claims independently.

A round of multiple reports from rescue workers and the Syria State Development said, “The initial target of the attack was a hospital. The chemicals then spread to surrounding residential areas. It was unclear, however, what type of chemicals may have been used,” the State Department adding that it was monitoring the reports.

Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, signalled at the Syrian government and Russia, and said that they "must be held accountable" and urging an "immediate response by the international community.

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A United Nations representative said that Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma.” However, he added that the UN was “not in a position to verify these reports.”

"We tried to send people to the area to rescue the injured, but even the rescue workers began suffocating," said Mohamed Samer, a medical worker.

World leaders like Pope Francis, US President Donald Trump, and others condemned the chemical attack. Trump took to Twitter and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia, and Iran for carrying out the attack on the eastern Ghouta city.

Trump wrote, “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price... ....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

Trump also attacked former US President Barack Obama and wrote, “If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”

Since Friday, the Syrian government had been striking on Douma, killing civilians and destroying the citizen’s infrastructure, said the UN. In response, the Jaish al-Islam launched a row of rockets into the Damascus area, killing or maiming residents.

First Published: Sunday, April 08, 2018 09:08 PM
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