A suspected chlorine gas attack on an opposition-held neighborhood in the Syrian city of Aleppo had reportedly caused dozens of cases of suffocation on Tuesday, rescue workers and a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue workers’ organization which operates in Syrian opposition areas, said that regime helicopters had dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the Sukari neighborhood in Aleppo’s eastern sector.
The Syrian regime in turn denied previous accusations of using chemical weapons during the five-year-old civil war. Regime authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Civil Defense said on its Facebook page that 80 people had suffocated. It reported no deaths. It posted a video showing breathless children soaked in water using oxygen masks to breathe.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the violence using sources on the ground, said medical sources had reported 70 cases of suffocation.
A United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry seen by Reuters last month found that Syrian regime forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad-regime head- were responsible for two toxic gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving the use of chlorine.
The Civil Defense accused Assad’s regime of another chlorine attack in August. Aleppo has been one of the areas hardest hit by escalating violence in recent months after a partial truce brokered by the United States and Russia in February crumbled.
Regime forces put east Aleppo under siege on Sunday for a second time since July after advancing against rebels on the city’s outskirts. The city has long been divided between Assad and his allies and opposition areas of control. The conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and forced more than 11 million from their homes.