The President of the UN Security Council for August, the permanent representative of Malaysia to the UN Ramlan Ibrahim, said that the Council will discuss who is responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria during this month and will announce the results at the end of it. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Syria Civil Defence said that 33 people, mostly women and the children, were affected by the gas which they suspect was chlorine, in Saraqeb, Idlib province. Medium-sized barrels containing toxic gases fell close to where a Russian military helicopter had been shot down hours earlier.
The Syria Civil Defence, which describes itself as a neutral group of volunteers that carry out searches and rescue work in areas controlled by the armed opposition, posted a video on YouTube that showed a number of men trying to breathe and members dressed in the Syria Civil Defence uniforms giving them oxygen masks.
Syria Civil Defence workers who went to the site said that they suspected that the gas used was chlorine gas but that it is difficult to confirm this. The organisation’s spokesman said that “Medium-sized barrels fell containing toxic gases. The Syrian Civil Defence was not able to determine the type of the gas.”
Monitors at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which tracks violence on all sides in the civil war said barrel bombs fell on Saraqeb late on Monday, wounding a large number of citizens.
Reuters quoted the US State Department as saying that it was looking into the reported use of chemical weapons in Saraqeb. It’s spokesman John Kirby said that “he is not in a position to confirm the veracity of (the reports),” and continued by saying “Certainly, if it’s true, it would be extremely serious.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defence said that a Russian helicopter was shot down near Saraqeb on Monday, killing all five people on board, in the biggest officially acknowledged loss of life experienced by Russian forces since they started operations in Syria. Government and opposition forces have both denied using chemical weapons during the civil war that has been going on for the last five years. Western powers say that the government has been responsible for chlorine and other chemical attacks. Assad’s regime and Russia have accused rebels of using toxic gas.