Syria government airstrike kills two

A Syrian government airstrike on an opposition-held district in Aleppo has killed at least two people.

It is alleged to have been a chlorine gas attack, on the city’s eastern Zabadieh neighbourhood. At least four barrel bombs were dropped on the area, one of which purportedly released the chlorine gas.

A father recounted gasping for breath and cowering with his family on the top floors of their apartment building, as a choking gas filled the hallway.

It came hours after the Russian military, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the civil war, promised a daily three-hour ceasefire for Aleppo for humanitarian aid to be brought into besieged areas.

Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi, of the Russian military’s general staff, said the cease-fires would be observed from 10am to 1pm local time to facilitate the distribution of aid.

The Netherlands-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria “are of great concern”, and “reprehensible” under any circumstances.

Khaled Harah, a first responder in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, said that a government helicopter had dropped four barrel bombs on Zabadieh and that one of them had released chlorine gas, killing a mother and her two children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that tracks the civil war in Syria, also reported that government barrel bombs struck the neighbourhood. It had reports of two killed and several people suffering breathing difficulties.

The Observatory made no mention of chlorine gas in its report.

Abdelkafi al-Hamdu, a resident of Aleppo, said he saw two airstrikes from his in-laws’ balcony, about 30 metres away.

He said the first blast released a gas that he identified, by smell, as chlorine, but the wind was blowing in the other direction, lessening the odour.

He took cover in the apartment, but had severe difficulties breathing, so he took his wife and daughter with him and tried to leave the building.

However, the odour grew stronger as they descended the stairs, so they returned to the higher floors to wait out the effects.

Accusations involving use of chlorine, and other poisonous gases, are not uncommon in Syria’s civil war, and both sides have denied using them, while accusing the other of doing so.

Last week, the Syrian government and the opposition traded accusations of using chlorine, also in Aleppo.

Chlorine gas is a crude weapon, fatal in high concentrations. In lower doses, it can damage lungs or cause severe breathing difficulties, and other symptoms such as vomiting and nausea.


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