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Chemical attack kills 40 in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

Regime forces struck targets in the Damascus suburb’s Douma district in a midnight attack using poison gas that left at least 40 civilians dead while injuring more than 500 people

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime carried out a fresh chemical attack Saturday in Eastern Ghouta, according to a local civil defence agency.

Regime forces struck targets in the Damascus suburb’s Douma district in a midnight attack using poison gas that left at least 40 civilians dead while injuring more than 500 people, the White Helmets said in a post on their social media account.

Syrian rebel group Jaish al-Islam, in control of Douma, accused government forces of dropping the barrel bomb containing poisonous chemicals, with their spokesman Hamza Birqdar saying to al-Hadath TV:

The Assad regime and its allies carry on with their crimes

Syrian state media denied launching chemical attacks as soon as the reports began circulating.

“Jaish al-Islam terrorists are in a state of collapse and their media outlets are (making) chemical attack fabrications in an exposed and failed attempt to obstruct advances by the Syrian Arab army,” state news agency SANA reported, citing an official source.

The government launched a fierce air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta, on Friday, killing 48 people in the last 24 hours alone.

The White Helmets

The Syrian civil defence agency, The White Helmets, published photos and videos from the aftermath of the attack on Twitter.

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Ceasefire

On 24 February, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 which called for a month-long ceasefire in Syria – especially in Eastern Ghouta – to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies early this month launched a major ground offensive backed by Russian air power aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta.

Home to some 400,000 people, the suburb has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.

Earlier this month, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

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