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The New Arab

Dozens killed in East Ghouta chemical attack

Syria's regime has been accused of using toxic gas including chlorine and sarin [White Helmets]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2018

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At least 40 people have been killed in a chemical attack on the last rebel pocket in the former opposition bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

The Syrian regime is suspected of carrying out a major chemical attack killing in the former opposition bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, killing dozens of people including women and children.

Medical sources told The New Arab on Saturday that at least 40 people were killed and over 1,000 injured after inhaling "sarin gas" in the town of Douma, as regime troops pressed an offensive to pressure rebels to withdraw.

"The regime has used internationally-prohibited sarin gas in the attack," the sources said.

"The victims' symptoms resemble that of sarin gas exposure such as difficulty breathing, vomiting and foaming from the nose and mouth. Chlorine attacks are not this deadly," they added.

The White Helmets civil defence said: "Entire families in shelters gassed to death in Douma hiding in their cellars, suffocated from the poisonous gas bringing the initial death toll to more than 40."

The rescue group published images of victims of the latest reported use of chemical weapons by the regime, showing victims who appear to have suffocated to death with foam at their mouths.

State media, quoting an official source, said the reports of a chemical attack were rebel "fabrications".

Syria's regime has been accused of using toxic gas - including chlorine and sarin - throughout the seven-year conflict, but it has repeatedly denied the claims.

A sarin chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun last year killed up to a hundred civilians and led to the US launching cruise missiles strikes on a regime air base.

Syrian regime air strikes continued on Saturday hit Douma, leaving at least 70 civilians dead in around 24 hours.

The regime has used a combination of a fierce military onslaught and two negotiated withdrawals to empty out 95 percent of Eastern Ghouta, but rebels are still entrenched in Douma.

Bombing had subsided as Moscow pursued talks with Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist faction that holds Douma, putting military operations seemingly on hold for about 10 days.

But the negotiations crumbled this week and air strikes resumed.

Jaish al-Islam leader Mohammed Alloush has accused the regime of carrying out a "genocide" in Douma.

"A mass genocide is taking place in Douma, Eastern Ghouta by the Nazis of the day," Alloush tweeted on Saturday.

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