Syrian regime forces used chlorine gas in an attack on the rebel-held town of Saraqeb in northwestern Idlib on Sunday, injuring a volunteer search and rescue team in one of Syria’s “de-escalation zones.”
Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, said that nine people were treated for breathing difficulties, including three White Helmet volunteers. The White Helmets are a search and rescue service of 3,300 volunteers from local communities who risk their lives to save civilians in the Syrian Civil War.
A White Helmet spokesperson said that “attacks like this, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, happen with impunity.”
Syrian opposition forces said the chlorine bomb was dropped by a Government helicopter. Media reports emerged that the victims arrived at the hospital smelling of chlorine, with severe eye irritation and breathing difficulties.
The Syrian government has not commented on the incident but dismissed accusations from the United States that it used chlorine in an attack on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, a week ago.
The U.S. and Russia clashed yesterday at the United Nations Security Council, after United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the council that there was “obvious evidence from dozens of victims” that chlorine had been used in Eastern Ghouta. A U.S.-drafted statement expressed grave concern about three reported chlorine attacks and asserted that the perpetrators must be held accountable.
In response, Russia accused the US of waging a “propaganda campaign” aimed at falsely blaming President Bashar al-Assad for chemical attacks.