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article imageOver 1,000 dead in chemical weapons attack near Damascus

By Abdul Kuddus     Aug 21, 2013 in World
Damascus - A nerve gas attack by Bashar al-Assad's forces on rebel-held areas reportedly killed more than 1,000 people, according to reports.
The incident comes as a UN chemical weapons team is in Damascus to investigate the possible use of chemical agents in Syria.
"Regime forces ... stepped up military operations in the Eastern Ghouta and Western Ghouta zones of the Damascus region with aircraft and rocket launchers, causing several dozen dead and wounded," according to an AFP report.
According to Syrian activists, rockets with chemical agents hit the suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar in the Ghouta region.
Through videos posted on YouTube, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, an activist group, showed alleged “massacre committed by regime forces with toxic gas, leaving dozens of martyrs and wounded," AFP reported.
Reuters reported:
Bayan Baker, a nurse at Douma Emergency Collection facility said, “Many of the casualties are women and children. They arrived with their pupil dilated, cold limbs and foam in their mouths. The doctors say these are typical symptoms of nerve gas victims.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights citing information from local activists said that the rockets attacks spread poisoned gas and requested the United Nations and other international bodies to investigate the attacks and book those responsible under international law.
Syrian authorities denied using chemical weapons. They have been blaming Syrian rebels of using them in the country’s 29-month conflict.
Reportedly, Syrian state television quoted a source as denying the reports saying the allegations were aimed at distracting the United Nations chemical weapons team from investigating the issue, the Voice of Russia reported.
Numerous allegations of chemical weapons use have been reported in Syria’s civil war between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels, but so far none have been verified by impartial international bodies.
The US and European nations suspected Bashar al-Assad of using nerve agent Sarin in the past, which Washington described as a "red line" that could justify military sanctions against Assad’s regime.
Meanwhile UN Secetary General Ban Ki-moon called on the Syrian regime to allow inspectors unrestricted access to Syrian sites where chemical weapons have allegedly been used.
"In order to credibly establish the facts, the mission must have full access to the sites of the alleged incidents," Ban Ki-moon told reporters.
The UN weapons team would investigate three sites, including the village of Khan al-Assal close to the northern city of Aleppo, where an alleged chemical attack killed dozens of people March 19.
Russia, which strongly supports Assad’s regime, accused the Syrian opposition forces of using the weapons in Khan al-Assal.
More about chemical attacks near Damascus, Syrian civil war, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, allegations of chemical weapons use, sarin
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