Estimates of the dead vary from 70 to 150 after the latest and worst chemical attack on the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta, in the Damascus suburbs. The number is likely to rise, as rescue workers are still reporting new casualties following the gassing at the town of Douma, the last in the enclave that remains in rebel hands. The White Helmets volunteer civil defense group said on Twitter: “More families were found suffocated in their houses and shelters in #Douma. The number of vict?ms is increasing dramatically, and the ambulance teams and the @SyriaCivilDefe volunteers continue their search and rescue operations.” The apparent strike by a “barrel bomb” filled with either sarin or chlorine gas targeted a building where displaced families were sheltering from the ongoing air-raids on Douma.
“Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating,” Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, told Al Jazeera as news of the attack broke early April 8. “White Helmet volunteers are trying to help the people but all that we can do is evacuate them to another area by foot because most of the vehicles and centers went out of service.”
The Ghouta Media Center, a body of the civil resistance, said on Twitter that more than 75 people had “suffocated,” while a further 1,000 people had suffered the effects of the attack. The victims are overwhelmingly civilians, and many are said to be children
The Assad regime said through its official news agency SANA said the reports are a “fabriaction” invented by the Jaish al-Islam rebels who remain in control in Douma. (More at The Independent, BBC News, Reuters)
There have been more than 400 regime and Russian air-strikes hit Douma over the past 48 hours, the Outer Damascus Civil Defense said. “Douma’s remaining doctors and emergency personnel are “almost totally paralyzed before the massive numbers of injured”, said doctor Muhammad a-Shami. (EA Worldview)
On Twitter, Donald Trump has pledged a US military response to the Douma attack.
Image: Syria Solidarity Campaign