Syrian government forces yesterday used chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas in two Damascus neighborhoods, according to reports cited by a Washington-based group backing the Syrian opposition.
If confirmed, the attacks would indicate the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is undeterred by the decision of the U.S. and other nations to increase military support for the rebels following earlier reports of chemical weapons use.
The U.S. decided earlier this month to provide small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebel forces after saying tests had confirmed the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s regime, which has denied the allegations.
In the latest alleged incidents, the Syrian Support Group said in a statement that it received reports from opposition sources that chemical bombs were dropped on the eastern Damascus neighborhood of Zamalka, killing six people and injuring dozens. In addition, it said chemical-filled shells were fired into the capital’s Qaboun district late in the day, with the casualty figures not yet known.
Victims are being treated at rebel-run medical facilities and doctors are attempting to determine the chemical used in the attacks, according to Dan Layman, a spokesman for the Syrian Support Group.
Victims’ symptoms included convulsions, chest and abdominal pain, dizziness, breathing difficulty, and contraction of pupils known as myosis, the group said.
There was no independent confirmation of the reports. The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately respond to a question about the alleged incidents.
The Syrian Support Group, a nonprofit group licensed to raise funds for the Free Syrian Army, also said that rockets fired by government aircraft destroyed most of a major hospital in Deir Ezzor province on June 23. Medical personnel were able to evacuate all patients from the hospital before the attack, and only minor injuries have been reported, the group said.