Medical sources say dozens of people were killed in an attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday, 7 April. The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the crisis on Monday. Both Syria and Russia deny a chemical attack took place and have reached an evacuation deal with the rebels. Outrage at the alleged use of chemical weapons has been widespread with Pope Francis saying, “Nothing, nothing can justify the use of such devices of extermination against defenceless people and populations.” The European Union has called for an “immediate response by the international community.”
One video, recorded by rescue workers known as the White Helmets, shows some men, women and children lying lifeless inside a house, many with foam at their mouths. Other unverified footage shows young children crying as they are treated in a makeshift medical unit. However, it has not been possible to verify independently what happened, or the actual number of dead. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, which runs medical facilities in the Eastern Ghouta, told BBC News that 70 deaths had been confirmed. According to the US-based Syrian American Medical Society, at least 48 people died, showing “symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent.” More than 500 people were brought to medical centres with such symptoms, it said, quoting emergency services in Douma. A doctor at an overwhelmed hospital in the rebel-controlled town told the BBC’s Joel Gunter he had panicked as his children coughed from gas seeping into the basement where they were hiding. Credit: The BBC, 9 April 2018.
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