Syria state media says rebels fired toxic gas in Aleppo

Smoke billows from Dahiyet al-Assad following an attack by rebels on Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo on Oct 29, 2016.
Smoke billows from Dahiyet al-Assad following an attack by rebels on Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo on Oct 29, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syrian state media said on Sunday (Oct 30) that rebels had fired shells containing toxic gas into government-held parts of Aleppo, leaving dozens of people, including civilians, in need of treatment.

State news agency SANA reported that 35 people were suffering from "suffocation" after shells carrying "toxic gases" hit the frontline district of Dahiyet al-Assad and regime-held Hamdaniyeh in Aleppo.

It said people were suffering from shortness of breath, muscle spasms and numbness, but were receiving treatment.

The head of Aleppo University Hospital, Ibrahim Hadid, told state television that "36 people, including civilians and combatants, were wounded after inhaling toxic chlorine gas released by terrorists". The allegation came on the third day of a rebel offensive to break a three-month siege of the opposition-held east of Aleppo.

Rebel groups have pledged to push from newly captured positions in the Dahiyet al-Assad district towards Hamdaniyeh.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group told AFP there were "cases of suffocation among regime forces in Hamdaniyeh and Dahiyet al-Assad". Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman could not specify the cause.

Use of chlorine as a weapon is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013 under pressure from its ally Russia.

It then agreed to get rid of its chemical stockpile and refrain from making any use of toxic substances in warfare.

But earlier this month, a joint United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) panel concluded that government forces carried out three chlorine gas attacks on villages in 2014 and 2015.