Dozens dead in suspected chemical attack in Syria

Reuters

- OPCW establishes a fact-finding mission in response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic".

"It is a matter of grave concern that chemical weapons continue to be used, especially on civilians".

US President Donald Trump described the attack as "sick" and criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

United States president responding on tweeter vowing a big price will be paid. The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

Syria and its Russian ally denounced the claims as "fabrications", with Russia warning of potential "dire consequences" if they were used as a pretext for military action.

A couple of days earlier, Russian Federation had warned about a false-flag chemical attack scenario by the terrorists to put the blame on the government.

However, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 people had died of suffocation, adding that it could not say if chemical weapons had been used.

The US State Department described the incident in Douma as "horrifying" and said that, if the use of chemical agents in the attack was confirmed, it would "demand an immediate response by the global community".

The UN Security Council is expected to convene an emergency meeting later today in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government.

Some of the footage showed piles of bodies inside homes or slumped in concrete stairwells, foam visible on their noses and mouths. Others put the toll even higher.

CNN could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the images.

The evacuations were to take place just hours after aid organizations said that more than 70 people had been killed in an alleged chemical attack in Douma.

Saudi Arabia called on the global community to "shoulder its responsibility toward protecting civilians in Syria", according to Turkey's Anadolu Agency which cited the Saudi SPA news agency. As part of the agreement, the group's fighters would be transported to Jarablus in northern Syria.

Taking Douma would seal Assad's biggest victory since 2016, and underline his unassailable position in the war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people since it mushroomed from protests against his rule in 2011.

Syrian state media are saying that dozens of civilians who had been held for years by a rebel group near the capital of Damascus have been set free. Americans are desperately in the quest for legitimate intervention in Syria possibly for another strike against government targets.

Facing defeat, rebel groups elsewhere in eastern Ghouta have left. But a network of flight monitors said they had observed a stream of Mi8 helicopters departing a Syrian government airbase and heading toward Douma between 8.25pm and 8.45, shortly before doctors started to record mass casualties.

Currently, 100,000 people are living under a blockade in about a seven-square-kilometre area of Douma.

August 21, 2013: In the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, more than 200 people are reportedly killed by poison gas. The town is under the control of people who are against the government.

Many have also fled to Idlib in the northwest, the largest remaining rebel-held area in the country.

Earlier in the day, Russia's military said an operation would begin on Sunday to bring Jaish al-Islam militants out of their besieged enclave of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the center of Damascus.

A spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general said: "While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the secretary-general notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation".

In an address at the Vatican's St Peter's Square on Sunday, the Pope told the crowd: "Terrible news comes to us from Syria with dozens of victims, many of them women and children.so many people are struck by the effects of the chemical substances in the bombs".

In April 2017, a sarin gas attack killed more than 80 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

That attack prompted the USA to launch several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. USA president blames Syrian government for what he called a "mindless CHEMICAL attack".

Syria has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the attack and denies it has any chemical weapons.

Will the US Attack distract the world from Gaza?

Republican US Senator John McCain said Assad was "emboldened" after Trump's remarks and said the US president now needed to respond decisively.

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