More than 150 dead from chemical attack in Syria

Syria protesters douma nerve agent attack
Syrian protesters in Douma against the continuous bombing of the city. Photo by shamsnn via Wikimedia Commons

Douma, which is the last town held by rebels in Syria, has been chemically attacked that has left more than 150 individuals dead. Medics and rescuers that responded to the scene have backed-up the allegations of a chemical agent being used but Syria and their main ally Russia have called the allegations to be fabricated.

Russia has also stated that if the US points fingers that the countries used a chemical agent that there would be serious consequences for those allegations. Nerve agent attacks have been the centre of news recently where Russia has been accused of the attempt murder of a former Russian spy.

Details of the attack have come from medial staff and activist groups that were able to respond and assist those that required help.

White Helmets, which is a volunteer rescue force responded to the scene and tweeted out details and graphic images of the events that had occurred. The head of the White Helmets, Raed al-Saleh, tweeted that 70 people had suffocated to death and that hundreds more are still suffocated. An earlier tweet that has now been deleted updated the total death toll to over 150 people.

Sources that witnessed the event claimed that the attack was from a barrel bomb that contained Sarin, which is a toxic nerve agent. Witnesses also say that the nerve agent was dropped by a helicopter.

A US based charity that performs closely with hospitals in Syria, The Union of Medical Relief Organisations, stated that the Rural Specialty Hospital confirmed that the earlier tweet stating 70 people had passed was correct. A spokeswoman for the charity stated that there were people who are suffering from symptoms such as; foaming at the mouth and convulsions which are common symptoms for those that have been exposed to nerve and chlorine gases.

Douma was subjected to continuous shelling overnight which made it nearly impossible to reach the victims and to see the overall status of the situation. As the allegations of the nerve agent attacks emerge, Sana Syria’s state news agency had said that the allegations were made up by the Jaish al-Islam rebels that have control of Douma.

Syria has used Sarin in rebel attacks before including the event that took place in August 2013. Although specific blame for the nerve agent attack hadn’t been reached, Syria was held responsible for a later nerve agent attack that occurred in April 2017.

The UN is investigating the reports that Syria was responsible for the attack but the Syrian government continuously denies the allegations stating that their chemical weapon arsenal has been destroyed.