Syrian rebels accused of chemical attack in Aleppo

Syrian rebels accused of chemical attack in Aleppo
© Getty Images

The Syrian government and Russia are accusing rebel forces of initiating a chemical attack that injured more than 100 people in Aleppo on Saturday.

The suspected toxic gas attack sent dozens of people to the hospital as they complained of trouble breathing and choking, Reuters reported. No casualties have been reported so far, but 48 of those affected were children, a Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Syria's foreign ministry on Sunday asked the United Nations to condemn the rebels for the attack, The New York Times reported. Some rebel groups have denied any involvement, saying the Syrian government and its Russian allies are shifting responsibility in order to justify an offensive, according to the BBC

Chemical weapons have played a central role in the years-long Syrian conflict, as Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has used chemicals including sarin and chlorine in deadly attacks on rebel enclaves. 

The rebels are not known to have access to sarin, a dangerous nerve agent, but they could have used chlorine, the Times reported.

Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said on Sunday that the Russian military believes the rebels fired shells filled with chlorine from the Idlib Province, the Times reported. 

“We cannot know the kinds of gases, but we suspected chlorine and treated patients on this basis because of the symptoms,” Zaher Batal, the head of the Aleppo Doctors Syndicate, told Reuters.

Batal said the Saturday gas attack is the first to affect dozens of civilians in Aleppo since the start of the seven-year conflict.